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Mysterious Skin

By Ian Grey | Posted 9/14/2005

Gregg Arakiís Mysterious Skin ixnays the pederast apologia trend of L.I.E. and The Woodsman to do the decent thing brilliantly. It focuses instead on the victims of abuse, in this case two small-town Kansas boys who were seduced, fucked, and abandoned by their baseball coach (Bill Sage). Ten years later, one boy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) deals with his rape by becoming an emotionally cauterized hustler; the asexual other (Brady Corbet) blacks out the horror, believing instead that he was abducted by UFOs. The boysí lives intertwine, leading to a single, unforgettably heart-wrecking closing image that doesnít exclude a whiff of hope. Whatever you think of Arakiís past nihilist queer-splotation movies (The Doom Generation, Nowhere) is rendered moot by an entirely new, pensive, luminous realism supported by Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie and Harold Buddís gauzy, gorgeous score. More than anything, Skin negates the pornography of false optimism. As in Scott Heimís source novel, Arakiís indispensable movie poetically argues that memory scars everything; only a truthful engagement with the original wound does any good.

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