A while back, Tessa posted a blog about independent gay films that she recommends. Most of the ones she listed I either had no interest in or have seen before, but the synopsis she suppled for one made me curious as to how it would play out. So I ordered the unrated director's edition of Mysterious Skin
to check it out.
Now, I don't have any doubts that Tessa knows her films. It's clear that she does. She's done reviews for Spill, has been featured on a weekly basis, and judging from the comments, is well respected in her opinions on what she writes. But I'll be damned if this film didn't make me very uncomfortable, very emotional, and forced me to revisit a dark memory I wish I didn't have.
This film is that powerful. I shit you not.
The basic plot is this: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet play two teens who have had something happen to them when they were both only eight years old. Corbet's character doesn't remember and Levitt's character doesn't want to remember but can't forget. Because of this, both of them have grown up, to put it mildly, mentally fucked up. Levitt's character has become nothing more than a prostitute, while Corbet's character believes he is a UFO abductee.
And this is what the movie centers around. This memory that one wants to find while the other doesn't want to have. It's a subject matter that I can speak about in a very familiar manner. In fact, it is the kind of thing that I could devote an entire psychiatric session towards if I had a doctor to go to.
So, yeah. Upon finishing this movie, my mind went to a dark place. A very dark place that, much like both characters in the film, affected me to the point where, much like Levitt's character, I wish I could forget.
The film does have two of my many guilty pleasures. The first is seeing an actor I was introduced to on the Disney Channel breaking out of the company's clutches. Very few actors that sign on to Disney can do that, but in this film Michelle Trachtenburg proved that she can. And thank God, too, because I was wondering what happened to her. Her acting career is sure to go places. Or at least I can hope.
The other guilty pleasure is watching puppy-dog-eyed, baby-faced Levitt suck me into his character. It's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to (500) Days of Summer
. His good looks are so disarming to me that I could very well have a crush on him. Or maybe it is because I've always been attracted to those kind of guys. I don't know. I think I'm starting to be a bit too honest about myself and my life in this review.
To anyone wanting to watch this after reading this rather sparse review, be warned that the films starts out with a punch to your gut. I have yet to see a film with such an uncomfortable beginning as what I just saw in this film. And once the damage is done and the tone is set, that uncomfortable feeling will not go away. Every scene is laced with the after effects of what happened at the beginning, as it should, to the point where the ending is so painfully sad... well, let's just say the word "heart-breaking" isn't strong enough a word for me to use. If anything, the ending made me feel cold and empty and lifeless. And it was then that I realized that I was back in that dark place, that bad memory I've been avoiding for the last six years if not longer.
To close, this film isn't about the story. It's about the people. It's very much a character study and a character-driven film. Because of this, you need actors that can drive the plot and push it forward emotionally. Both Levitt and Corbet do this with such power in their performance, I can see why this film is a favorite to anyone who sees it.
But to me? For someone who has had a similar memory with a similar effect? This is not a movie. It's too close to reality for me. So much so that I need to stop writing this and just click the publish button before I end up going emo on everyone. As if I haven't already...