Mysterious Skin

March 30th, 2005


Mysterious Skin

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Michelle Trachtenberg and Jeff Vespa at event of Mysterious SkinJoseph Gordon-Levitt at event of Mysterious SkinBrady Corbet at event of Mysterious SkinJoseph Gordon-Levitt at event of Mysterious SkinScott Heim at event of Mysterious SkinBrady Corbet at event of Mysterious Skin

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

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 7.8/10 (30,039 voted)

Critic's Score: 74/100

Director: Gregg Araki

Stars: Brady Corbet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elisabeth Shue

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.

Writers: Gregg Araki, Scott Heim

Chase Ellison - Neil (Age 8)
George Webster - Brian (Age 8)
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 - Wendy (Age 11)
Ryan Stenzel - Stephen Zepherelli
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Neil
Richard Riehle - Charlie
Michelle Trachtenberg - Wendy
Brady Corbet - Brian
Larry Marko - Old Man with Scar

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


Official Website: ABC [Australia] |

Release Date: 30 March 2005

Filming Locations: California, USA

Opening Weekend: $17,425 (USA) (8 May 2005) (1 Screen)

Gross: $697,181 (USA) (31 July 2005)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | USA: (Sundance Channel Library Print)

Did You Know?

Emile Hirsch auditioned for the role of Neil.

Errors in geography: The scene of Neal running in downtown New York after leaving his john with AIDS is actually Downtown Los Angeles.

[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.

User Review

Very strong movie with difficult content

Rating: 10/10

I had high hopes for this film, since I have been a big fan of the novel on which it is based. The film exceeded my expectations in every way. Although quite faithful to the book (with many lines of dialogue and narration moving straight from Scott Heim's poetic prose), the movie has more drive and focus and pulls you so far into the troubled characters. Credit for the movie's strength goes all around -- director Araki put his mark on the story without taking it over. He got uniformily good performances (and somehow managed to direct scenes that any reader of the book would have thought completely unfilmable). Kansas has never looked better, or more sinister. The music is used well throughout.

And the acting is terrific. The two youngest leads, Chase Ellison and George Webster, were entirely convincing in their scenes (and I hope they feel proud of their work, seeing as how there's no way they'll get to see this movie until sometime next decade). Michelle Trachtenberg and Jeff Licon have fairly thankless roles, playing characters who are somewhat less clear and crucial in the film than their characters were in the book. But they don't sweat that, they just play what the screen play has them do, and they excel. Licon, especially, I think, although Trachtenberg is at a disadvantage, as her part is really pretty small.

And for me, at least, I think Mary-Lynn Rajskub, Brady Corbet, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt give about as good performances as one can give. Rajskub is so good that she gives the other actors in the film a space to react that is almost visible. Corbet is quiet and intense; if his performance sometimes lacks motivation, it is probably deliberate, as his character is struggling with identity and memory. And as for Gordon-Levitt, man, that guy can act. I really have a hard time thinking of any acting performance ever that has affected me as much.

It is a difficult story, although I felt it ends hopefully. Hopefully, you will agree. Content is very strong, although perhaps not NC-17 strong. Not for kids. Adults, if you can get past the 2nd scene, you can get through it, but there is a lot of outlawed sexuality and violence. It is painful to watch at times, but to me at least, that's because the actors and the director managed to immerse me in the characters.


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