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Okay, so, I was on a Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) kick about four years ago after watching him in The Dark Knight Rises. Armed with the power of Google and recommendations from a few friends I picked up the film Mysterious Skin. No one gave me any background information, and I did not have the wherewithal to investigate for myself. In light of that, I feel compelled to warn you that—spoiler alert— sad movie is sad. It deals with some seriously heavy subject matter.

Made in 2004, this Greg Araki directed movie is based on the 1995 novel by Scott Heim. It stars a young JGL, ready and raring to prove he’s got more up his sleeve than audiences were privy to during his tenure on the campy sitcom Third Rock From The Sun. JGL’s got a pretty extensive filmography, but I think Mysterious Skin still stands out.

Brady Corbet plays the second lead. If you recognize him it’ll probably be for his role in the 2003 film Thirteen. He garnered some buzz with his directorial debut The Childhood of A Leader and snagged a Best Debut Film and Best Director award for it at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. He’s currently working on a project with Jude Law, Stacy Martin, and Rooney Mara called Vox Lux. It’s about a rising pop star and will supposedly feature original music by Sia. It won’t come out until sometime in 2018, but I’m pretty dang curious about the whole affair. There’s a good chance I’ll end up watching it at some point, but I digress.

The blurb for Mysterious Skin claims “A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth”. As far as a synopsis goes, this one’s both right on the money and a touch misleading if you haven’t done the proper googling. For whatever reason, I mistakenly began watching this film under the impression that the aforementioned aliens would play a different role in the narrative than they actually did. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE WRONG IN MY LIFE.

I’m not willing to say much beyond that, because this is a recommendation, not a review, and I don’t want to spoil anything. You’re free to Google it if my content warnings have you spooked, but otherwise this is really one of those movies you just need to go ahead and see for yourself. I’m a sucker for a feel-good film and happy endings give me life, but sometimes I just want a film that sinks its claws into me.

I’m not going to lie, parts of this film were hard to sit through. As I’ve said, repeatedly, the subject matter is pretty delicate (probably not the best viewing for kids, unless you’re a fan of emotional trauma). It’s a heartbreaking kind of film, and I still have mixed feelings about the resolution. Still, I’m glad I stumbled across it, and hopefully you will be, too.

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