[IMDB link] [Netflix link] [ABC interview with Gregg Araki about this movie] I don’t normally do dramas, but Gregg Araki has yet to ever make a film I didn’t like. I was wondering, for a bit, if he was a “fun Todd Solondz“, but I think the answer is definitely no — this movie was anything but fun. (Smiley Face was fun, this was not.) This was, however, extremely engaging.
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Child molester causes budding friendship between teenage male prostitute and asexual nerd.
PEOPLE: Directed by Gregg Araki (Smiley Face, Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation, the movie Nowhere, G.I. Joe:Rise Of The Cobra), who’s never made a film I didn’t like. Based on a book by Scott Heim.
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy from 3rd Rock From The Sun), Brady Corbet (one of the creeps from Funny Games U.S., Derek Huxley from 24 season 5, Thirteen), and Michelle Trachtenberg (17 Again, Buffy The Vampire Slayer [the series]). With Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe from 24 & Veronica’s Closet, Human Giant, The Larry Sanders Show, Mr. Show, Storytelling, Dude,Where’s My Car?), Elisabeth Shue (Adventures In Babysitting, Back To The Future 2-3, The Karate Kid, Hollow Man), and Chris Mulkey (Twin Peaks, Cloverfield, the movie Wasted, Dreamscape).
QUIRKS: Child molestation, child prostitution, alien abductions, blocked out memories.
Two stories that seem to have nothing to do with each other eventually do: Child molestation brings people together.
This is very painful and awkward movie to watch at times. Seeing a child molester go through the steps he goes through to successfully molest a child is more than bit disturbing. Plus, they make the child gay, so he kind of wants it (he had his first orgasm masturbating to his mom giving a guy a blowjob; he was focused on the guy). This makes the whole moral situation even more engaging, as the kid kind of wants it, but not really. Ugh. Could things BE any more awkward?
MORALS: Uhhh… Don’t rape children… And parents? If your kid starts passing out spontaneously and wetting his bed– Maybe, just maybe, something happened.
BAD STUFF: They never really resolved the Mary Lynn Raskjub plot quite to my satisfaction, but maybe I just wanted her to be more. I guess she was simply a red herring, to advance the nonsensical alien abduction plot.
CONCLUSION: Very, very profound… in many ways. Also one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever watched, in many ways. This made Todd Solondz‘s “Happiness” look like a picnic in the park. Gregg Araki has yet to disappoint me, which is more than I can say for most of my favorite directors.
RECOMMENDATION: If you can handle being greatly disturbed, this is a great movie. I don’t push dramas too much, but I highly recommend this.
SIMILAR MOVIES: Happiness (Todd Solondz) definitely has its slight similarities to this movie, what with pedophilia and child molestation being a theme. But Happiness was a black comedy, and this movie is just… intense drama. The ABC interview with Gregg Araki about this movie also mentions the movie Happiness.
MOVIE QUOTE: [final quote, though not really a spoiler] “As we sat there listening to the carolers, I wanted to tell Brian that it was over now and that everything would be okay. But that was a lie, plus I couldn’t speak anyway. I wish there was some way to go back and undo the past. But there wasn’t. There was nothing we could do. So I just stayed silent and tried to telepathically communicate how sorry I was about what happened. And I thought of all the grief and suffering and fucked up stuff in the world, and it made me want to escape. I wished with all my heart we could just leave this world behind. Rise like two angels in the night and magically disappear.”
Music: Kreator – Terror Zone