Friday, October 28, 2011

Inspiration: Wendy Peterson, Mysterious Skin (2004)

I was discussing this film recently and I remembered how I was intrigued by Michelle Trachtenberg's character's look. Combined with the dream-pop soundtrack, its reminiscent of all that was good about the early 90s in terms of music and style. It speaks of spiderweb necklaces, lava lamps, glitter nails, butterfly clips, heavy eyeliner and hazy eyes.

Mysterious Skin is based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Scott Heim.

"I met Wendy Peterson when I was ten. She was eleven, one grade ahead of me in school. If I wasn't queer we would have ended up having sloppy teenage sex and getting pregnant, contributing more fucked-up unwanted kids to society. But instead, she became my soulmate. And... one true partner in crime."

(Click on photos for larger versions)

The characters in this film all have had to deal with issues well beyond their years. I have a lot of sympathy for Wendy, she reminds me of the Peter Pan character, who must take care of a Peter Pan of her own, in the form of Neil.

The skin they live in, like every teenager they construct an image for themselves, be it Neil's nonchalant, devil may care attitude, in his tank tops and casual jackets. Wendy styles herself like a dream poptress (like Rachel Goswell of Slowdive or the girls of the riot grrrl movement - Babes in Toyland, Hole, etc) In fact, Wendy really epitomizes this aesthetic, as she leaves her small town and goes on her own way to the Big City (NY), whereas Neil, outwardly the most confident member of the group, follows.

The final scene of Wendy is her asleep in bed, oblivious to Neil's recent trauma. She has had to grow up quicker than everyone else, and take on everyone's burden, and to cope with her best friend keeping his biggest secret from her. Up until that point everyone has been leaving in a state of limbo, an uncomfortable dream until the past is finally confronted.

"You don't have to tell me, I was infatuated with him too once. But I know all Neil's secrets and there's shit there you don't even want to know about. Trust me. Once I'm gone, you'll be all Neil has and you have to understand one thing. Where normal people have a heart, Neil McCormick has a bottomless black hole. And if you don't watch out, you can fall in and get lost forever."


  1. ah wow i pretty much had forgotten about this film, also love love love michelle trachtenberg in basically anything she does