niina.amniisia » bits, pieces and photos from sydney, australia and elsewhere

mysterious skin (Monday August 22nd, 2005 - 22:12)

category: mmhuh?

In 1995 I was taken to a film called the Doom Generation, at the good old Verona on Oxford Street, because my favourite band was on the soundtrack. I remember being struck by the madness, the colours, these kids moving about in a reckless way to the coolest tunes. It’s not a nice film, the violence creeps up from schlock to reality, and the hip-cool-kid talk would get most people to walk away before the plot actually started. But I liked it.

Confused but thrilled I did a little reading up on the writer/director/producer/etc Gregg Araki and got myself copies of the Living End and Totally F***ed Up – both films centered on gay relationships, bored teenagers, life and death, and general wastefulness. In those films I found more Jesus and Mary Chain references amongst other good music, I picked up a book with the scripts to these earlier films, and marvelled at the oddness.

I missed his next few films for being in the wrong places at the right times and haven’t managed to track them down yet and I assume they’re in a similar vein.. but recently I heard about Mysterious Skin – his first adaptation of a novel instead of his own script – so I went to see it on Friday.

On a side note the ticket seller at the Dendy looked at me a little puzzled and said “You’re over 18 aren’t you?”. Err…. Anyway, slight spoiler coming up so if you have some intention of seeing the film it might be best to stop reading.


Mysterious Skin unsettled me – brilliantly shot, acted, and portrayed but dark and too true to the harm that children and people can be subjected to. The story begins with two kids from Kansas, little league playing innocent cutesy things. Brian recounts in his teenagehood that he believes he was abducted by aliens at the age of 8 while Neil looks back at time spent with his baseball coach and the abuse that was done to him. These instances shape their characters, Brian is a reclusive alien-fixated teen while Neil starts to turn tricks favouring older men and living on the edge.

The film turns your stomach with the brutality that’s suffered by these two kids (that’s right, Brian wasn’t abducted) but it’s not all doom and gloom, there’s a side of true friendship as well as motherly (but unfortunately ignorant) love. It’s a story of facing and remembering the truth, not the “truth” you’ve made yourself believe. You fall back to the reality that some kids get scarred and carry these memories of abuse within them that most people couldn’t imagine or fathom. Brian lashes out at his long absent father for failing to see what he actually went through, Neil seems willing to put his life on the line presumably for thinking that nothing worse could happen to him. It’s so easy to get hurt, but so hard to heal.

As wrong as it sounds to say it, the film is stunning.

Comments are closed.