Monday, September 05, 2005

Mysterious Skin (2005)

Amazing what a little maturity can do to someone. Gregg Araki isn't generally known for his restraint, but it looks like the guy learned a little something about delicacy in the five years since his last film (the underrated Splendor). Lord knows what a teen-apocalypse-era Araki would have done with this, but Araki v2.0 turns out to be the perfect person to take this on. His newfound interest in dreamy magic realism (call it the Van Sant Effect) has taken the acid out of his transgressive instincts, so that he no longer leans on shock value; concurrently, it's his sense of transgression that allows him to tackle this material head-on. No punches are pulled in depicting the effects of childhood trauma in adult life, and the film never feels cheap, tawdry or overcalculated. It's a perfectly balanced drama -- too balanced, actually, since the intially-fascinating parallel structure ends up tipping the narrative's intentions far too early and softens the blow of the climactic confrontation. That doesn't distract from the fact that this is well worth seeing, though. The acting, also, is uniformly excellent, which is something I never thought I'd say about an Araki film. (This is, after all, the man who gave the world James Duval.)

Grade: B


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home