There’s been a quite interesting subgenre outburst of late that draws parallel relationships between coming-of-age sexual awakenings and creature transformations. Werewolves, amphibious swimmers, forest beasties – films like Blue My Mind, about bodily explorations based on youthful changes that cannot be contained. Director Lisa Brühlmann focuses not on vicious animal attacks as Wildling or The Lure does, falling more in line with something heady like When Animals Dream. How perfect a metaphor? Straight forward soul-searching dramas of youth like Lady Bird and The Edge Of Seventeen are not without their own “monster moments” – genrefication just adds another uninhibited layer of depth and scaly intrigue.
Brühlmann’s muse is 15-year-old Mia (Luna Wedler), dropped into a new hometown after her parents’ recent move. This means finding new friends and avoiding “fresh meat” hazing at school, which she does by befriending posh cool-girl Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen). After a few showings of good faith, Mia finds herself invited to boozy lakeside parties with plenty of boys and newfound temptations. She’s becoming a woman as so many have before, except with odder side effects like a thin film between her toes and general hunger for fishy proteins (alive or dead). Like navigating hormones and social status wasn’t hard enough without maybe possibly becoming a mermaid?
Brühlmann’s Swiss influences are so tartly European and whimsically suitable given Mia’s Animorphs journey. Both the primal and human mesh under circumstances that are not foreign to childhood experience, but acceptance makes the absurd appear normal. A girl whose appendages begin fusing together, legs discolored, eating habits ten grades beyond sushi – there is respected mystery about Mia’s condition, but never with distracting regard. A transformation is happening and, much like puberty, there’s no stopping it – a constant theme in all these hormonal changeling stories. Shock and awe substituted for natural progressions, rites of passage spun in unique ways.
Specific to Blue My Mind, Brühlmann opens and closes on foamy coastal shorelines that bookend a constant soundtrack of gurgling underwater rushes. Mia, unaware of her true heritage, forced to navigate her own becoming whilst also fighting inhibitions that rage like a seesaw caught in cyclone winds. Parents, sexual partners, friendships – every relationship Mia cultivates hangs in flux whether she wants it or not. There’s a commentary about control and perception here – the Mia alcohol allows versus the Mia curled up by her window – and it’s all very appropriate for the fumblings we attribute to teenage unawareness. If only a bit darker, unstoppable and so very gender-centric in hows boys vs. girls are allowed to explore new feelings.
Much of actress Luna Wedler’s sympathetic findings hinge on her ability to dance tumultuously between so many emotions. Popularity is easy to find upon the introduction of all-black wearing “alpha” classmates (Adidas clothing for days), thus instigating her sexual quest of tangled limbs and “bimbo” acts – but this is not all. Family arcs build drama at home while physical pain is inflicted as she performs self-surgery to prevent fishy qualities from advancing (some queasy body horror at play, albeit subdued). Wedler is so lost in her character’s body with expressive showings that range from dispiriting and tragic (taken advantage at a sex party) to poetically understated. It’d be a sunken arc without influence from booty-shakin’ friends or worrisome parentals, but Mia finds herself with no shortage of youthful representation.
Additionally, Blue My Mind looks crisply gorgeous. Cinematography is sharp and contrasting based on what’s happening in scene – amusement park Connyland sunkissed with innocence while basement fiestas are saturated with neon glows – in very composed and artfully indulgent ways. It’s a hypersensitive spotlight that displays volatility. Apartment scoldings all happen in drab modern blandness while loosened gallantry perks in location presence. It’s a flowing river of disrupted tranquility that ripples through each and every scene, water related sounds always proving the loudest audible cues. No one sense ever overpowered, cinema in synchrony.
Blue My Mind is a provocative Swiss origin story about sex, drugs and trials no person can possibly be prepared for. Whether Mia’s transformation is true or a ruse, the proposition of underwater DNA is only bested by Lisa Brühlmann’s execution. A story of one girl trying so desperately to escape her own self that she’ll try being anyone to force away her fate – scared, inquisitive, unable to comprehend the changes occurring. It is, without question, a wonderful metaphor that holds a mirror without ever making it obvious to audiences – mermaid folklore or not.
Blue My Mind's liquid coming-of-self fluidity is a well represented young girls experience with new feelings, unable to wrestle against changes far beyond her control.