Blue My Mind Review
Being a teenager is hard. You try to fit in at school with the cool kids, you clash with your parents, and you start growing scales.
Wait, did you guys not go through that too?
The experience of female puberty is no stranger to the horror genre. Carrie, Teeth, Ginger Snaps, When Animals Dream, and many others chart the experience of young girls whose changing bodies and awakening sexuality bring with them a darker element. Typically, this is tied to the girl having her first period, the beginning of “womanhood”, but it’s blood of a more visceral and violent nature that tends to follow. Whilst Swiss mermaid film Blue My Mind is more of a modern fantasy, there is still a good amount of body horror as protagonist Mia (Luna Wedler) slowly sees various changes in her anatomy and appetites (raw fish, yum).
The directorial debut of actress Lisa Brühlmann, who has also directed two episodes of the popular thriller series Killing Eve, Blue My Mind is at times raw and ugly and, at others, dreamlike and sensual. It’s mesmerising with a great use of colour palettes and cinematography to convey its strange mood but still brings us back to earth with the messiness of teenage life; making it a very interesting and engaging coming of age tale - or should that be tail - to watch, and an outstanding directorial debut to launch a career.
The most horrifying moments in the film are not those of Mia’s physical changes, although there are a few moments where the practical detail of it will have you wincing, but the ones where her self-destructive behaviour spirals further and further out of control. Lead actress Luna Wedler manages to convey the everyday painful energy of teenage angst, yet with an edge of the ethereal to her character. She is drawn to a group of wild girls at her new school. The trio is headed by Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen) whom Mia admires but also seems attracted to, and in order to fit in she tries imitating their style, dabbles in hard drugs, and even contacts a man over twice her age in an attempt to lose her virginity - all of which is laid out in a very harsh and seedy way.
At times, it is very hard to watch this girl who can’t understand what is happening to her. She cannot turn to anybody about it and instead chooses to lash out, which is also somewhat understandable and is reflected in her new friends even if they don't have the same "situation". It’s like she’s trying to cling to belonging to a group as a means of combating the otherness of her own body, going to greater lengths as her physical condition grows. When the film gets to the point where the transformation is complete - after Mia’s initial panic and despair - there’s almost a sense of relief; now everything has come together and she can be free.
The reason behind Mia’s transformation is kept mysterious and vague, something I quite liked. At one point, Mia herself thinks that it may be a hereditary trait and thus she was adopted into her current family. The movie also opens with a child, presumably Mia, standing on the shore, so it could be divined that maybe something happened to her in childhood, an equivalent to Ginger in Ginger Snaps being bitten by the werewolf, that laid the groundwork for what is happening to her now. Or, of course, there could be no reason at all - that’s also entirely possible. The lack of an explanation could be unsatisfying to some but instead, it gives events more of an air of the mythical, removed from everyday human reason.
Blue My Mind is an effective coming-of-age film that balances fantasy and harsh reality. Well worth seeking out.