Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mysterious Skin by Andy

This was a difficult movie to get through. It's interesting to me that I had a difficult time watching this movie because I am public defender and I deal with child sexual abuse cases on a daily basis. None of the information, story, or disturbing behavior is anything new for me to process, and other than the movie, shockingly few related stories (true or not) actually disturb me.

So what is the value, then, for me to watch this kind of a movie? Other than my man-crush on J. Gordon-Leavitt? I think the value it held for me was in the true drama of it. Bad things happen to good/innocent people, and sometimes good/innocent people are ruined by traumatic experiences. In our story, Neil and Brian have totally different reactions to the same traumatic sexual abuse.

Neil is noticeably deeply affected by his coach's abuse, so much so that his whole sexual identity is warped and destroyed (by the way, as a side note, I'm not suggesting that abusing kids make them gay or that gay people were abused or that Neil, as a character, chose to be gay: I personally believe homosexuality is not a "choice"). His life spirals down hill at a pretty decent clip until he finally realizes that it was his reaction (re: failure to deal with) the abuse that has lead him to be a male prositute. It doesn't say at the end, but I'm guessing that Araki intended Neil's rape to be his "rock bottom." Hopefully Neil climbs his way out - real life statistics are against him for sure.

Brian is the outwardly opposite situation. He is shy, reserved, and prudish to Neil's extroverted, showy, whorish personality. Brian has struggled through his whole life with acute traumatic amnesia about his event. He blocks it out with only a nosebleed to remember it by. He was the real story, I think. He lived a fairly normal life (albeit completely absent of any kind of romantic experience). I wonder at the end whether Brian's ultimate recollection of the abuse was cathartic or a huge emotional setback. I wonder if blocking bad memories is so bad. His "rock bottom" was in many ways worse than Neil's (even though Neil's life was seemingly so much more destructive) because how far he fell and how fast he did. I wonder how quickly he came to grips with his abuse and how long before his life returned to a sense of normalcy.

Not a fun film for sure, but the acting was excellent and the drama very compelling.

comments by Andy

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