Blue My Mind


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Blue My Mind
"An astonishing debut."

It begins with the sea. A child wanders on the shore, seemingly fragile next to the crashing waves, but unperturbed. There is something animal about her, as perhaps there is about all children, still waiting to be civilised. Instinct drives her – her perspective is not that of the viewer.

Water is present throughout this film, little pools and rivulets drawing us back to that sea. The water in Mia’s mother’s aquarium, the water in the bath, the water in a swimming pool where predatory partygoers gather. Even Mia’s body is caught in the flow as she experiences menarche, and the awareness of her body changing makes her feel as if she is caught in some invisible tide, swept off her feet, unable to control her direction. She struggles to communicate with the adults around her, to tell them that she thinks something is wrong, really wrong. Is she simply experiencing what most girls go through in adolescence, or is there something else?

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Lisa Brühlmann’s blistering debut feature has the blunt realism of an Andrea Arnold film mixed with something altogether different. Mia (Luna Wedler) is crude, bitter, destructive and sometimes shockingly violent (scenes of animal cruelty may upset some viewers), but there’s an honesty about her behaviour that makes her compelling to watch. Trying to impress the dominant clique at a new school, she halfheartedly takes up smoking, experiments with drugs, and makes herself sexually available to strangers in a way that seems briefly to satisfy some hunger in her but worries her new friends. Despite starting off as a queen bitch, however, the masochistic Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen) is fascinated by the extremity of her behaviour and seems to be developing a crush just as circumstances are contriving to tear them apart.

Everything is larger than life yet small and mundane in a film that, for all its otherness, gets to the heart of the agonies of adolescence. Brühlmann’s camera gets in close alongside the girls in small spaces, sometimes uncomfortably so. It’s alert to Mia’s sense of being cornered in her parents’ home, at school, in a storage cupboard where she gets intimate with a man she’s just met. A shoplifting expedition reflects these scenes, building on the fear of being caught, only to burst into the exuberance of flight along corridors and bridges, through wide open spaces. Mia is always in the moment, unable to think about the future, though she has questions about the past. Even when still, she is always on the brink of something.

An astonishing debut, Blue My Mind plunges into turbulent waters, and even as its central conceit becomes apparent we can never be sure quite where the current will carry us. Wedler is superb and immerses herself in her character. There are no weak links in the supporting cast. Though it often makes for uncomfortable viewing, this is a film you won’t want to miss.

Reviewed on: 25 Feb 2018
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When a teenager who has trouble with her parents moves to Zurich with them, she starts to walk on the wild side.

Director: Lisa Brühlmann

Writer: Lisa Brühlmann

Starring: Luna Wedler, Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen, Nicola Perot

Year: 2017

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: Switzerland

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