Mysterious Skin (2004)

GREGG ARAKI

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA/The Netherlands, 2004.  Antidote Films, Desperate Pictures, Fortissimo Films.  Screenplay by Gregg Araki, based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Gregg Araki, .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Gregg Araki.  Independent Spirit Awards 2005.  Toronto International Film Festival 2004.  

Two boys, barely aware of each other, grow up under the shadow of looming childhood trauma: one had a sexual affair with his baseball coach when he was eight years old, the other had a blackout for five hours as a child and is convinced that during that time he was abducted by aliens. Having been on the same little league team as children, the two boys grow up parallel to each other until their quest to put the past at rest has their destinies intersect. In the meantime, the first boy () becomes a reckless hustler while the other () makes friends with an another “abductee” much to the chagrin of his mother.  Gregg Araki has done an impressive job of adapting Scott Heim’s excellent novel to the big screen, remaining incredibly faithful to the source material and making sure to flesh it out with dramatic compulsion even at points when the structure is more feeble than the novel’s was. The cast is uniformly excellent, with both the leads giving strong, dynamic performances, while Araki himself (making his best film since The Living End) avoids the excessively unpleasant imagery of his past films and sticks to the heart of the story. Its more gruesome segments are presented with unflinching honesty, but its touching moments are also given effective treatment.

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