7.7/10
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249 user 144 critic

Mysterious Skin (2004)

Unrated | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 24 June 2005 (USA)
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1:54 | Trailer

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ON DISC
A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth.

Director:

Gregg Araki

Writers:

Gregg Araki (screenplay), Scott Heim (novel)
5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chase Ellison ... Neil (age 8)
George Webster ... Brian (age 8)
Rachael Nastassja Kraft Rachael Nastassja Kraft ... Deborah (age 12) (as Rachael Kraft)
Lisa Long ... Mrs. Lackey
Chris Mulkey ... Mr. Lackey
Elisabeth Shue ... Mrs. McCormick
David Lee Smith ... Alfred
Bill Sage ... Coach
Riley McGuire Riley McGuire ... Wendy (age 11)
Ryan Stenzel Ryan Stenzel ... Stephen Zepherelli
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Neil
Richard Riehle ... Charlie
Michelle Trachtenberg ... Wendy
Brady Corbet ... Brian
Larry Marko Larry Marko ... Old man with scar
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Storyline

Brian Lackey is determined to discover what happened during an amnesia blackout when he was eight years old, and then later woke with a bloody nose. He believes he was abducted by aliens, and N. McCormick, a fellow player on Brian's childhood baseball team, may be the key as to exactly what happened that night. As Brian searches for the truth and tries to track him down, Neil McCormick takes up hustling and moves to New York, in attempts to forget childhood memories that haunt him. Together, the two of them uncover the terrible truth of the scars they share. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Two boys. One can't remember. The other can't forget.


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Netherlands

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 June 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Piel misteriosa See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,425, 8 May 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$697,181, 31 July 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Sundance Channel Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Each of the youths in the film is based in part on the life of Scott Heim, the book on which the film is based. Scott claims to have seen a UFO with his family, excelled in school, and lived with his single mom after a divorce (like Brian). He announced baseball games (like Neil) and his infatuation with cosmetics and British goth pop made him the subject of death threats (like Eric). See more »

Goofs

There is a Metallica "St. Anger" sticker (with the "St." torn off) on the right rear fender of Eric's Gremlin in 1991. "St. Anger" wasn't released until 2003. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Brian: [narration voice-over] The summer I was 8 years old, five hours disappeared from my life. Five hours. Lost. Gone without a trace.
Brian: [narration voice-over] Last thing I remember I was sitting on the bench at my Little League game. It started to rain. What happened after that remains a pitch black void.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The movie title is displayed at the start of the film (at 0:01:56) spaced out as M-YS-TERIOUS S-K-I-N. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 2005 film reviews generally list a 99 minute run-time. The British Board of Film Classification, bbfc.co.uk, rated the uncut 105m 19s film as 18 on 5/20/2005. The 3/20/2006 "Unrated Director's Edition" Strand Releasing DVD has a 104m 59s run-time, but its case lists a 99m length; it is also anamorphic 853x479 pixels format (1.78:1 aspect) but the case lists Letterboxed. The Internet Movie Database technical specifications list a 107 min Sundance Channel Library Print, but on Sundance.com Sundance TV lists a 105 minutes run-time. See more »

Connections

References Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Away in a Manger
Traditional lyrics, tune attributed variously to William J. Kirkpatrick (uncredited) or James Murray (uncredited)
Performed by Tom Meredith, Cydney Neal, Arlo Levin and Isaiah Tefilo (as Isaiah Tefilo)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A brave, wide-eyed look at a controversial subject
30 August 2005 | by huladog55See all my reviews

I have a feeling that most of the reviewers here have not read the text of "Mysterious Skin" by Scott Heim. Doing so would be most helpful in viewing this film.

Out of sheer luck, I happened to find a screening in Las Vegas, almost a year after the initial release, having finished the book only one day before. It was an interesting experience from the start.

One got the feeling of stepping into an adult cinema, instead of a semi-mainstream release. I was surrounded by sprinkling of older guys watching an NC-17 matinée. A first for me, for sure. The movie captures the feel of the book spot on. Director Araki should be commended for staying so close to the text. Hardly anything was left out and what was deleted did not detract from the storyline in the least.

Heim's novel deals with subject matter that most people would prefer to deny exists. But back here in the real world, it does. On screen we see the sensualization of an 8 year old boy, along with his sexual fantasy. Not for the squeamish, but Araki communicates this brilliantly without diluting the message. Most people would shy away from a story that has an 8 year old boy having an orgasm as he watched his mother have intercourse, but Araki does not. And somehow he makes it okay.

Hats off to the boys cast as the young Neil and Brian. Chase Ellison captures the emotions of his character very well. He captures the darkness of Neil McCormick incredibly, and translates perfectly from the written page. We sense the confusion turning into acceptance and then, desire. It made me squirm in my seat. George Webster as young Brian is great.

I can't imagine a lot of actors lining up to play the boylover coach, but Bill Sage does very well. In the story, his role doesn't seem like a pure predator, but clearly he has devices at work. He's in the right place at the right time.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a marvel is this film. There was a genuine quality to his character, an aloofness that comes with knowledge at an early age that is hard to put into words. Brady Corbett successfully brought his youthful character along, and I think his interactions with the other characters is spot on for someone who had had an experience like his.

Critics will say that this film glorifies pedophilia. I disagree. I think it shows the effects of pedophilic relationship on different people, and how they react to it. It is a slice of life, albeit a very dark one, that does occur each and every day. Approach with caution and an open mind.


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