Fantasia Fest: 'Blue My Mind' Review Directed by Lisa Brühlmann
Starring Luna Wedler, Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen, Regula Grauwiller and Georg Scharegg
Published Jul 25, 2018A fascinating spiral downwards into a teenager's metamorphosis, Blue My Mind is a beautifully shot debut from Swedish newcomer Lisa Brühlmann. Twisting fantasy and horror with a young girl's teen angst à la Raw and The Lure, Brühlmann tells a dark, dramatic story that's monstrous and surreal.
When 15-year-old Mia (Luna Wedler) transfers to a new high school, she's desperate to befriend the popular girls and become part of their exclusive clique. The leader of the clique, Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen), welcomes her into the group, introducing Mia to casual sex, shoplifting, and recreational drug use. But Mia's control on reality starts to blur as her body undergoes some odd changes beyond the usual onset of puberty, and she's powerless to stop what's happening to her.
Mia's growing discomfort with her body is indicative of the way that most teenage girls often feel, as if "becoming a woman" requires a loss of agency. In many ways, her body is not her own — it's up for public scrutiny from her friends, tightly supervised by her clueless parents, and objectified by men. So when Mia's toes start to web together and her legs become mottled with strange bruising, it's yet another way she loses control. Mia's mental state begins to slip as she becomes seized by strange, violent urges. At times Mia seems to reject them, but she also revels in the freedom they give her to become powerful.
The film hints at an unspoken queer narrative as well. There's a definite sexual energy between Mia and Gianna, and we're never really sure if Mia wants to be with Gianna or to simply be her. On Gianna's behalf, we also don't know if she wants to take Mia under her wing as an ingénue, or if her interest is more romantic. Either way, these themes further illustrate Mia's growing sense of confusion about and isolation from her own wants and needs.
Although the film's body horror elements take a backseat in the first two acts, they slowly come bursting through to the forefront in a series of quietly shocking interludes, as Mia begins to further shut herself down from the outside world. Blue My Mind, overall, looks fantastic, with subtle and effective special effects and gorgeous cinematography. Blue really is the film's star colour, and different shades are used to great effect; deep, dark blues to reflect Mia's sinking sanity, garish neon blues to convey surreal otherworldliness, washed-out blues when Mia feels most abandoned and alone.
Blue My Mind is fascinating and shocking throughout, and seductively draws the viewer in with stunning visuals and an engaging story about the dangers of teenage womanhood. Definitely a drama first and a genre film second, Blue My Mind is still a definite high point in the "socially conscious horror" canon.
(Be For Films)