VOD film review: Blue My Mind
Coming of age8
Matthew Turner | On 29, Jun 2019
Director: Lisa Brühlmann
Cast: Luna Wedler, Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen, Regula Grauwiller, Georg Scharegg
Watch Blue My Mind online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play / Sky Store
This stylish and engaging debut from actor-turned-director Lisa Brühlmann (best known in the UK for helming episodes of Killing Eve) blends coming-of-age drama and body horror to increasingly unsettling effect.
Set in an unnamed Swiss town, the film stars Luna Wedler as Mia, a teenager starting at a new school halfway through the year. Desperate to fit in, she quickly ingratiates herself with a trio of rebellious girls, led by Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen). Soon she’s joining in all their illicit activities, from shop-lifting and arranging hook-ups with older men to taking MDMA while on a school trip to an amusement park.
However, Mia also has an altogether more unusual problem to deal with. On the day of her first period, she notices that her toes have started to web together. That’s swiftly followed by a nasty-looking skin disorder on her legs, to say nothing of a compulsion to eat her mother’s goldfish right out of the tank. And as her transformation continues, her self-destructive behaviour spirals increasingly out of control.
The use of body horror as an allegory for the agonies of female adolescence and puberty is a common occurrence in genre cinema, from Ginger Snaps to Julia Ducournau’s Raw. Blue My Mind is very much in that tradition and the script ensures that Mia’s condition touches several different aspects, from body dysmorphia and self-harm to eating disorders (at one point she gulps down a glass of salt water, a common trick used by bulimia sufferers that’s in keeping with Mia’s condition here).
But the film is strong just as a traditional coming-of-age movie (parents of teenage girls will likely be terrified), with the interactions between Mia and her new friends – as well as her ongoing alienation from her parents – extremely well observed. However, it should be noted that the film takes an explicitly nasty turn that’s perhaps a little too strong for its target audience and feels jarring as a result. (It’s rated 18 for that reason.)
Luna Wedler is terrific in the lead, evoking heart-breaking sympathy for her character even when she’s doing awful things. To that end, she has the perfect combination of confusion and curiosity, as well as an underlying reserve of aggression that frightens even her. Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen is equally good as Gianna, generating palpable chemistry with Wedler that the film acknowledges but leaves unexplored, at least on the surface.
Brühlmann maintains a consistent tone throughout, skilfully balancing both aspects of her story. It’s also beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Gabriel Lobos, who uses subtle watery tones (greys, blues, greens) throughout. The film is further augmented by some exceptional sound design work, which highlights water-related noises such as the bubbling aquarium, a dripping tap or running water.
Blue My Mind is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of an £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription.