I hate it when they look like Tarzan but sound like Jane.
The genesis of me watching writer/director Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin was that I was in a forum and people were talking about Joseph Gordon Levitt’s performance in that movie. It had me intrigued to see it with his career going up with his Golden Globe nominated performance in (500) Days of Summer and being in Inception, which I plan to see. Hearing that this movie was tough to watch is an understatement, it was painfully derivative that I pity the actors in this movie.
The movie revolves around two boys Brian Lackey (George Webster) and Neil McCormick (Chase Ellison) beginning in 1981, when they were nine. Brian is an ordinary dorky kid with Jeffery Dahmer glasses that suffers from nightmares, frequent nosebleeds and constant blackouts. He doesn’t know why they are happening. I wasn’t until one night when he is with his mom (Lisa Long) and sister, Deborah (Rachael Nastassja Kraft) are visited by a UFO on their roof.
Neil is the complete opposite. He comes from a broke home with his mother (Elisabeth Shue) is going out with different guys every night. Neil finds himself attracted to the Marlboro Man types that his mom brings home. When his mom enlists Neil into pee-wee baseball, Neil becomes infatuated with the Coach (Bill Sage). The feeling is mutual when Neil becomes the star player of the team. He is invited to the Coach’s house where he grooms and seduces Neil.
Brian, now Brady Corbet, grows up to be a bright young man, but he is haunted by his experience when he was younger. He wants to find answers to questions that he seeks. Looking at the television one day on a program called “World of Mystery”; Brian watched the story of Avalyn Friesen (Mary Lynn Rajskub) who recounted her experience being abducted. He tries to seek her out to bond over their shared experiences.
Neil, now Joseph Gordon Levitt, grows up to be a hustler for older men which doesn’t sit too well with his childhood friend, Wendy (Michelle Trachtenberg) who is constantly worried about his safety and his health sleeping with random men who pick him up. Neil’s other gay friend, Eric (Jeffrey Licon) has a little crush on him, but he knows nothing with happen between them because Neil is focused on making money. It seems like these two stories are different, but it intersects in the most mundane way possible.
I am baffled about the praise that has been bestowed upon this movie. It’s ranked in the movie seventies on IMDb and Metacritic. Personally, I was pissed off at the movie for perpetuating gay stereotypes. Being a gay man myself, I hate it when a kid is molested or raped, they turn out gay. That is not always the case. For some reason, they have to be a hustler craving for male attention.
I am pissed off at the “mystery” of this movie. There is no mystery. I knew what was going to happen before it did. It was like the director was talking down to the audience. I was not swept up by the narrative to care about the obvious ending. Sure, it was sad and disgusting, but I was not happy with the movie. Neil is not the brightest bulb in the pack, but he should have some common sense about the Johns he brings home. He’s not the greatest hustler ever. I don’t know why guys went for him. Wasn’t it because he looked like a prepubescent kid?
The whole storyline with Brian was completely one side and poorly done. I thought the movie was about Neil’s journey. He is on the poster and everything. I thought Neil was toying with the audience with his voice-overs, but it was suppose to be integral to the ending of the movie.
Judgment: I cannot recommend this movie. If you want to see a movie this subject done better, I would suggest L.I.E.