Mysterious Skin

This is one of the best movies so far this year (not that the competition from Anakin’s Very Bad Day and Hey! We’re Cartoon Animals! Love Us! hasn’t been fierce) and yet, strangely, it’s about a young man who looks back fondly on the summer during which his Little League coach sexually abused him. Gregg Araki writes and directs an extremely sophisticated look at the complexities of the issue, focusing especially on the manipulation of trust and the need that young people have for adult approval. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a hypnotic performance as the beautiful and amoral Neil, a hustler who is shadowed by the nerdy Brian. Brian believes that he may have been abducted by UFOs and thinks that Neil holds the answer. He does, but it’s not an answer Brian wanted to hear. Beautifully saturated colors and careful framing make this a visual treat whose imagery enhances, rather than distracts from, its main premise. This film is so nicely executed, you’d think it had committed multiple murders in Texas.

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