Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 88 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Based on the acclaimed novel by Scott Heim, Mysterious Skin explores the hearts and minds of two very different boys who come to find the key to their future happiness lies in the exorcism of their collective demons. (Tartan Films)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. This thoughtful, troubling drama is leagues above the sensationalistic stuff Araki peddled in earlier films.
  2. 88
    Not for the squeamish, but it is a beautifully crafted and thoughtful film that genuinely provokes.
  3. 80
    A warped, but beautiful and strangely hopeful, coming-of-age tale.
  4. A deft, affecting drama about childhood sexual abuse and its lifelong scars.
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    It's an ideal collaboration: A stylish director desperately seeking substance transforms the first, somewhat flat novel of a promising young writer into powerful and brutally honest film about a highly controversial subject.
  6. 70
    The result is flawed but frequently haunting.
  7. Had Araki chosen to illuminate, rather than exploit, the traumatic aftermath of child molestation, his wallow in the horrors of Mysterious Skin might have had a purpose. As it stands, his film is just another trashy look at America as the land of imbecilic perverts.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 39
  2. Negative: 4 out of 39
  1. Oct 31, 2012
    People can't face the truth. Araki didn't create the alien idea. It is 0% fictional. Maybe the most incredible story of the last 10 years. The movie is perfect on itself. Expand
  2. ChadS.
    Sep 11, 2006
    Sometimes it's like a gay "X-Files", and sometimes it's like the third season of "My So-Called Life" that never was(Ricky and Brian Krakow become best friends); all I know is that "Mysterious Skin" is compulsively watchable, a movie whose irreverent treatment of child abuse is grounded with irony-free angst (it's nothing like the equally brilliant "Happiness" by Todd Solondz) and a soundtrack (a Fraser-less Cocteau Twins) that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of alienation in a small-town. How the celibate boy's story is actually the same story as the chicken-hawking Goth Expand
  3. j30
    Feb 19, 2012
    Mysterious Skin is gut wrenching story, tragedy with great acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet. Mysterious Skin is a movie that stays with you, it's impossible to shake off. Expand
  4. DanB.
    Feb 27, 2007
    I didn't like it at first but as it went on it kind of made it difficult not to accept and keep watching. Whatever that means. It's really well made. It's not for everyone and I'm not sure, even though I liked it, that it needed to be as graphic as it was. Expand
  5. Feb 5, 2013
    Sad, odd and viscerally beautiful film about the act itself and the aftermath of child molestation. A film about how profoundly such experience can affect the free will, the choices the victims make later in their life and ultimately the constitution of their personality. Is there a lesson to be learned here? With all the uncompromising depiction and dialogue all over the place, i really doubt that. All that you are left with is the wish that you yourself were able to change the past of these poor souls. Trust me, that implausible and irrational wish will linger on you for days just like some mysterious skin. Expand
  6. Feb 23, 2013
    Mysterious Skin is the story of two boys and an event one summer, that changed their lives forever. Both had different reactions to it and both had their whole lives consumed by it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Neil, and does an outstanding job. Neil is a male prostitute, cold and heartless on the outside, but lonely and miserable on the inside. JGL does a great job of portraying both to the audience. Be warned thou, this is one graphic film, not for the faint of heart. There are a lot of raw scenes featuring Neil, in fact, I don't think I've ever seen someone get undressed as many times in one movie as JGL does in this one. As for the film, it starts out strong, then in the middle, it seems like your typical, weird, indie flick. Don't turn it off just yet, because it gets better and better, building up to one of the strongest endings I've seen in a long time. This isn't something that hasn't been done before, but a combination of a great cast, top notch acting, and a brutally graphic depiction of events, makes it unique and something that you're going to want to see. Expand
  7. GaborA.
    Aug 15, 2006
    I never walk out of movies. I'll suffer through anything to criticize it afterwards and warn others. That was until I tried to watch this movie. Utterly unwatchable. Expand

See all 39 User Reviews