Mysterious Skin DVD: Review By jpmangalindan

A decent film transfer for an outstanding indie and an unexpected read-through of Scott Heim’s work by Gordon-Levitt and Corbet.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A decent film transfer for an outstanding indie and an unexpected read-through of Scott Heim's work by Gordon-Levitt and Corbet.
THE BAD
No making-of doc*mentaries?
THE FEATURE
Uttterly unflinching, Gregg Araki's coming-of-age film hews closely to Scott Heim's heartwrenching novella of tortured sexual awakening. Potent in its theatrical form, Mysterious Skin doesn't lose the cinematic magic that made it a critical darling on DVD.

The highlight: Joseph Gordon-Levitt winning performance as Neil McCormick, an emotionally-tormented adolescent hustler whose faux nonchalance fools everyone - his male customers included - save those closest to him; his path crosses with Brian Lackey (Brady Corbet), a teen also trying to make sense of the alien abduction flashbacks which haunt him.

Mysterious Skin is a kaleidoscope of emotions, of undiscovered territories and shocking epiphanies. At times cruel (Neil's violent rape), at times darkly funny (Brian's adoration of all things-extraterrestrial), Araki's success lies in an unerring ability to sift through the pages of Heim's work and bring the book's emotional gravitas to the screen.

THE EXTRAS
Few perks included: no making-of docs or extensive cast interviews. What is here though is pretty cool: a fun audio commentary with Araki, Gordon-Levitt and Corbet revealing little tidbits - a camera catching fire, Gordon-Levitt's smoking preparations, differences between the book and film - and an unexpected book reading by its stars. For such a potent movie, I was hoping for more behind-the-scenes moments, maybe even interviews with Scott Heim itself.
THE VIDEO
1:85 Anamorphic Widescreen - Relatively clear transfer with little "fuzz." Very middle-of-the-road.
THE AUDIO
Dolby 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, DTS 5.1 Surround - The usual options abound, but an underrated, simple soundtrack provided by Cocteau Twins guitarist Robin Guthrie and composer Harold Budd sonically upholds the introspective themes Araki communicates in the film.
THE PACKAGE
Posing against a blood-red backdrop, Gordon-Levitt's mugshot was used for Mysterious Skin's promotional posters, soundtrack and now the DVD's cover. It would have been nice to see a different and equally powerful image to front for the movies, but let's figure Araki and Tartan Film figured, if it ain't broke...
THE FINAL WORD
Gregg Araki's film adaptation of Scott Heim's novella finally hits DVD in a no-frills package, but no matter: One of the year's best films speaks for itself.

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