Mysterious Skin

User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 98 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 83 out of 98
  2. Negative: 8 out of 98

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User Reviews

  1. Feb 23, 2013
    8
    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 theMysterious 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
  2. Feb 5, 2013
    9
    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 reallySad, 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. Collapse
  3. Oct 31, 2012
    10
    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.
  4. j30
    Feb 19, 2012
    10
    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.
  5. Aug 26, 2010
    9
    Shocking, simply shocking! Granted any intelligent viewer would have anticipated the denouement long before it was revealed, still through the masterful work of the director you are held spellbound! wow!
  6. PaulaS.
    Aug 1, 2008
    10
    One of the most harrowing and strangely touching movies I've seen in many years. The writing and acting are equally terrific.
  7. SiriusC.
    Aug 2, 2007
    10
    This movie was the best depiction on child abuse I've ever seen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing. The matter in focus is the most delicate subject you can ever put into live pictures, and yet, Gregg Araki manage to put in two seperate storylines, which in the end, connects.
  8. DanB.
    Feb 27, 2007
    9
    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.
  9. ChadS.
    Sep 11, 2006
    10
    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 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
  10. GaborA.
    Aug 15, 2006
    0
    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.
  11. ScottW.
    Apr 17, 2006
    8
    Why is it that those who dislike movies about tough subjects, tend to dismiss them entirely without consideration? Why watch the movie in the first place? Anyway, this was a well-made movie and provides a path forward for those kids that were abused. To me, it certainly is far superior to the movies like Mystic River and Sleepers that also make attempts at exploring this stuff.
  12. NolanD.
    Apr 6, 2006
    1
    I was furious watching this movie, not because of the content but because of the treatment of the content. It's one of the most delicate subjects, if not THE most delicate subject, and this director went at it like a bull in a china shop, and then in an interview claims he's not trying to shock anyone, which is such utter @#$!. I agree with Matt A., and I truly don't know I was furious watching this movie, not because of the content but because of the treatment of the content. It's one of the most delicate subjects, if not THE most delicate subject, and this director went at it like a bull in a china shop, and then in an interview claims he's not trying to shock anyone, which is such utter @#$!. I agree with Matt A., and I truly don't know what to make of the general response that this movie has recieved. Expand
  13. JohnD.
    Mar 11, 2006
    10
    If you don't recognize the beautiful acting and the that provoking plot, you should not be able to rate this movie. Though dreadfully disturbing in some parts, it is terribly compelling.
  14. MattA.
    Jan 26, 2006
    1
    Just because the film tackles a taboo subject like molestation and sex with minors doesn't mean that it's good. Ridiculously acted (especially you 3rd rock from the sun kid), terribly written, and directed with about as much subtlety as a sledge hammer to the head, this film easily wins my award for not only most overrated film of the year, but the worst film as well. Kenneth Just because the film tackles a taboo subject like molestation and sex with minors doesn't mean that it's good. Ridiculously acted (especially you 3rd rock from the sun kid), terribly written, and directed with about as much subtlety as a sledge hammer to the head, this film easily wins my award for not only most overrated film of the year, but the worst film as well. Kenneth Turan is a grade-A boner for saying this is the best film of the year, and I will never trust his reviews again because of it. Expand
  15. Pedro
    Dec 23, 2005
    1
    Worst movie ever!......what the hell is wrong with Araki??
  16. Matt
    Nov 30, 2005
    6
    Well-acted and shot, if not the most involving movie experience. Ian M is spot on
  17. Rich
    Oct 28, 2005
    8
    Awesome yet disturbing movie See it!
  18. Rob
    Oct 28, 2005
    10
    This film was a surprisingly faithful adaptation to Scott Heim's controversial novel. If anything, Araki has improved upon the novel's slightly ametuerish writing while still capturing the same plot. Another surprising part of this film was how Araki changed the character of Eric from a melodramatic character, to a comedic one, supplyign an amusing balance to the film.
  19. LarryJ.
    Oct 21, 2005
    10
    I viewed Mysterious Skin for the first time about 8 hours ago and still feel a tremendous emotional reaction to this most unique film.
  20. [Anonymous]
    Sep 17, 2005
    10
    Amazing story and acting! very powerful and very disturbing....worth watching it.
  21. GazB.
    Sep 17, 2005
    10
    I don't normally comment much on the movies I see, and thats probably because most leave me pretty ho-hum. I like a movie that takes you somewhere, wrenches your gut, stirs all sorts of emotions and leaves you numb and thoughtful. I also like a movie that is real. I saw Mysterious Skin tonight and thought it was one very amazing movie, telling a very real story many of us know about, I don't normally comment much on the movies I see, and thats probably because most leave me pretty ho-hum. I like a movie that takes you somewhere, wrenches your gut, stirs all sorts of emotions and leaves you numb and thoughtful. I also like a movie that is real. I saw Mysterious Skin tonight and thought it was one very amazing movie, telling a very real story many of us know about, but don't share with but a handful of people. Even though it was very difficult to watch in parts, it was handled with alot of care to bring out an understanding of the feelings and emotions that are set alight in the abused, and the abusers. I especially liked the way the two boys very different experiences of dealing with the abuse were handled, and the different ways they found to cope with the missing link to love. Although some have said it wasn't graphic, I felt it was, but then the emotion that was stirred due to seeing the confusion and the pain of the boys cut at a deep level for me. If you're willing to understand the inner depth of the abused, then this is a must-see. The cast were brilliant, not one of them could be criticised for anything less than a perfect performance. The soundtrack by Harold Budd and one of my all-time fave bands, The Cocteau Twins, guitarist Robin Guthrie was excellent, very moving and matched the emotive scenes exceptionally well. I'm out to buy this tomorrow. Five stars for this. Best movie I've seen this year. Expand
  22. JoseG.
    Aug 30, 2005
    9
    Very well done and very watchable film from a director who has always promised so much.
  23. JimM.
    Aug 18, 2005
    10
    One of the most disturbing but wonderful movies I've ever seen...Great acting, great script, great film-making (Arkai's best). For thinking people, Not for the superficial massses. People just sat for a few minutes after the movie, you have to sit for a minute to digest it. Soundtrack is also awesome (ambient/etherial work of art).
  24. DoM.
    Aug 13, 2005
    10
    Three months after seeing this film I still think about it, my throat clenches and I find myself tearful. No movie has ever affected me that way.
  25. Scott
    Jul 19, 2005
    10
    Brilliant.
  26. RitB.
    Jul 19, 2005
    6
    This is a difficult movie to watch because of the subject matter and because the acting is so well done it will draw you into the world of child molestation and male prostitutes. I felt like I needed a shower after seeing this movie --- maybe that's a compliment because it illustrates the ability of the movie to make the viewer relate to what is happening. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has This is a difficult movie to watch because of the subject matter and because the acting is so well done it will draw you into the world of child molestation and male prostitutes. I felt like I needed a shower after seeing this movie --- maybe that's a compliment because it illustrates the ability of the movie to make the viewer relate to what is happening. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come a long way from his days of playing an alien on 3rd Rock From the Sun. In this movie he is very believable as a soul-dead, teen hustler who lost the ability to feel or relate to others on anything other than a physical level. He has not aged since his days on 3rd Rock. According to the IMDB his age is 24 yet he doesn't look a day over 14. That's downright creepy. Expand
  27. GarisonK.
    Jul 8, 2005
    9
    This is a brilliant realization of Heim's novel and I am grateful that the Landmark in Atlanta opted to book this film. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's performance is extraordinarily powerful &one of truly remarkable depth. I would love to see him on stage. Imagine what he could bring to bear in a role such as Hamlet or Romeo; or perhaps something more modern, say from Tennessee This is a brilliant realization of Heim's novel and I am grateful that the Landmark in Atlanta opted to book this film. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's performance is extraordinarily powerful &one of truly remarkable depth. I would love to see him on stage. Imagine what he could bring to bear in a role such as Hamlet or Romeo; or perhaps something more modern, say from Tennessee Williams. Maybe Bobby in McNally's LOVE, VALOR, COMPASSION! In contemporary America, we have multiple and dramatic examples to confirm that, if you control the language (terminology), you can define and control the debate. "Late term abortions" are clearly criminal actions. Who could possibly be against a "war on terror"? And who could possibly support "special rights for homosexuals"? While I have not read all the previously posted comments; I am intrigued by some reviewers' choice of terminology, e.g.,. "sexual abuse", "child abuse", "molestation." Because the film I saw was exemplary in NOT using any such terms. One of the reasons I found the movie so "particulary complex... [and] profound" is that I was not instructed to reach a predetermined conclusion codified by the labels assigned to what had transpired. Neil does not say, "I was the victim of sexual molestation by a pedophile who led me into a life of drug abuse and prosttitution." Neil says Coach loved him. Brian struggles with bloody noses, blackouts and dreams he strains to understand. But his rage is against his father for never being his advocate and seeking out the cause of his child's troubles. We see no rage when his boyhood experiences are illuminated for him. Rather we are presented with a pieta: as Brian rests his head in Neil's lap and the strains of "Silent Night" drift over them. This is a film of greys. And all the more powerful for being so. Expand
  28. Terry
    Jul 4, 2005
    10
    I saw this on 7/3/05 at the Angelika Theatre in Houston and cannot get over how gut-wrenching it is. An exceptional movie by all standards. An unflinching look at past events and the hopes of the future are well balanced. A must-see! 10 stars out of 10.
  29. anyankaa.
    Jun 28, 2005
    10
    Mysterious Skin is indeed beautiful, mysterious, delicate, heartrending, honest, gorgeously shot and gorgeously told. It is also amazingly faithful to the source material and manages to reproduce the lush, eidetic prose of the book in a visual language. The Seattle PI reviewer couldn't be more symptomatic of a culture that demonizes sexual abusers at the same time that it glorifies Mysterious Skin is indeed beautiful, mysterious, delicate, heartrending, honest, gorgeously shot and gorgeously told. It is also amazingly faithful to the source material and manages to reproduce the lush, eidetic prose of the book in a visual language. The Seattle PI reviewer couldn't be more symptomatic of a culture that demonizes sexual abusers at the same time that it glorifies and infantilizes sexuality, refusing to see the shades of gray and damage childhood sexual abuse can engender. Expand
  30. StevenH.
    Jun 24, 2005
    10
    This is the most visually arresting, challenging, and haunting film not only of this year, but possibly of the last five years. The performances, across the board, are riveting and amazing. The script is brilliant, taken from a brilliant novel; Gregg Araki establishes himself as one of the most fearless directors of our time. This film should be distributed to wider release. It's a This is the most visually arresting, challenging, and haunting film not only of this year, but possibly of the last five years. The performances, across the board, are riveting and amazing. The script is brilliant, taken from a brilliant novel; Gregg Araki establishes himself as one of the most fearless directors of our time. This film should be distributed to wider release. It's a small masterpiece. Expand
  31. IanM.
    Jun 12, 2005
    6
    I agree with Nick M. that the obviousness of the movie's structure is a disappointment. Because the audience knows everything pretty much from the beginning, the one boy's quest to solve his UFO memories seems pointless in dramatic terms. We know the truth even if he doesn't, so why do we have to spend so much time watching him follow totally false leads? The film also I agree with Nick M. that the obviousness of the movie's structure is a disappointment. Because the audience knows everything pretty much from the beginning, the one boy's quest to solve his UFO memories seems pointless in dramatic terms. We know the truth even if he doesn't, so why do we have to spend so much time watching him follow totally false leads? The film also skirts right around the provocative idea that the other boy is in fact attracted to the coach and dreams of being seduced by him. It brings up the idea early on, then forgets about it for the remainder of the movie. I did like the film overall, primarily for the mood and performances, but I think many people are finding more in it than is actually there simply because it deals fairly overtly with a controversial subject. The problem for me is that it takes an extremely conventional, and conservative, stand that's little different from the typical LIfetime for Women movie. In the end it is not particularly complex or profound, though its style makes it seem as if it is. Expand
  32. FernandoM.
    Jun 7, 2005
    9
    Joseph Gordon-Leavitt gives an amazing and haunting performance. This brutally honest movie stays with you long after it's over.
  33. Larry
    May 31, 2005
    9
    A movie that manages both to expose the horrors of child molesting while also acknowledging that children have sexual feelings. Daring, honest, and terrific acting.
  34. LenW.
    May 28, 2005
    10
    Disturbing but oddly cathartic film about an act of childhood sexual abuse and the varying ways two young men are stunted emotionally until they can deal with their pasts. Sometimes "out there" but with an unmistakable ring of truth.
  35. TimH.
    May 28, 2005
    10
    A terrifying look into the lives of two molseted boys, MS is clearly the best film of Mr. Araki's career. Mr. Gordon Levitt delivers a Spirit Award deserving performance, and the visuals by Steve Gainer are stunning.
  36. StephenP.
    May 13, 2005
    10
    Easily one of the best films of the year, and certainly the most thought-provoking and visually gorgeous.
  37. MauriceR.
    May 7, 2005
    10
    A film that is as honest and provocative as any film can be. One of the best of the year.
  38. edm.
    May 5, 2005
    10
    One of this years ten best!
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Mar 17, 2014
    80
    With Mysterious Skin, Araki burrowed into the hearts and minds of his audience, looking to provide his viewers with Neil and Brian’s deeper understanding of how to piece together a fractured life, then go looking for the fragments that are still buried deep.
  2. 60
    By the end of Mysterious Skin, I felt physically exhausted but I also felt satisfied at the way it all falls into place.
  3. Dull film about pedophilia that fails to shed any light on the topic.