Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our short reviews in the style of festival films, VR advancements and other special event launches. This review comes from 2018 What The Fest.
Going through puberty can be scary. Newly sprouted pubic hair, strange dreams and strange smells, and a rapidly changing body are strange and unpleasant things. But, what if you were also growing up and becoming a carnivorous monster? In the Swiss film Blue My Mind by Lisa Brühlmann, a young girl suffers from this radical physical transformation, just as she is sailing in a new high school and meets new friends who are dedicated to recreational drugs.
What is the genre?
It is horror and fantasy, mixed to a degree that borders on magical realism. Brühlmann brings corporal horror and mutilation to a level that rivals Kafka's The Metamorphosis, but mixes it with the anguish and existentialism of teenagers. Brühlmann does a great job of balancing this magical and aquatic world within the realistic themes of adolescence and early feminism.
What is it about?
The film opens in modern Switzerland, at a high school where great kids, led by Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen), smoke cigarettes, steal in stores and dance sexy at the entrance of the school, while remaining united within his own clan. Mia (Luna Wedler) is the new girl at school, which makes her vulnerable, even though she is beautiful enough to fit in with popular kids. Being eager to please, learn to dance sexy and change her wardrobe, Mia wins an invitation to join Gianna's gang. But in her arduous efforts to fit in, Mia is trapped in dangerous situations. She is almost captured by a security guard in a shopping center for larceny, and because the other girls bother her for remaining a virgin, she tries to lose her virginity with a lone Internet man who looks like Senator Ted Cruz.
To increase their sense of isolation, Mia's parents have no idea what is going on. But they do know that Mia is acting strangely and has made some questionable friends. Throughout the film, adults are not helpful. They interrogate Mia, they expel her from a school trip to an amusement park, and when Mia's transformation nears completion, they go to a relative's wedding.
What is it really about?
Both in real life and in fiction, adolescent anguish – and, on a more extreme level, mental illness – may be opaque for people who are not experiencing them. Both can be difficult to communicate to a stranger, and both contribute to people closing and isolating themselves instead of seeking help. When Mia transforms into a fish creature, her growing anxiety and alienation from friends and family has a tangible source, but she can not tell anyone about it because she feels that what is happening to her has no scientific explanation, and is too rude for her. look like The analogy of the fish creature suggests a form of mental discomfort that viewers might dismiss as growing pains, but that could be a more serious sign of hidden mental and emotional illness. Brühlmann does not detail how deep Mia's problems are, which leaves the metaphor open enough to apply to a variety of situations.
At the same time, Blue My Mind deals with feminism. The film premiered in Switzerland in 2017, before #MeToo spread through Hollywood, then globally. But her themes resonate with the movement: the film portrays Mia's male sexual partners as scary and selfish threats that only steal her agency. Still, Mia is not impotent against them. As it changes, it is also growing in physical strength, although it is emotionally close to collapse. Push people to the ground, and choose and choose their encounters and who they will be closest to.
Blue My Mind also resonates with queer themes. Mia's panic on the verge of her change evokes trans-pretending transgender women who want to initiate hormonal regimes before undergoing puberty and face irreversible changes in their bodies. Tear rejects every new physical loss: the straps form between the toes of your feet, your feet fuse. The film hints at a strange romance that is never confirmed: Mia and Gianna go to bed together after a party and hug each other tightly, comforting each other more effectively than any boy who can "bounce" superficially (that's the Swiss-German jargon for sex). , which appears despite any language barrier, given how many times it is repeated in the movie.)
These are timely problems, and Blue My Mind brings them all together in less than two hours with efficient narration and subtle allusions. Instead of explaining what is going through Mia's mind, Brühlmann turns on the camera in the disconsolate gaze of Wedler and the shadows that fall on her, as a beam of light shines through the window. The ambiguous and evocative images of Brühlmann document more than judging. Early teen parties and wild theft trips are never considered terrible, although for these characters, sex has no meaning, and the mental agony is too overwhelming to face. The most that Blue My Mind does to turn a thesis in the film is to capture Mia's total apathy towards men and her unbridled obsession with her body, rivaled only by her desire to be Gianna's friend.
Enjoying the movie requires enjoying teenage angst and body horror since there is not a moment without them. But the beauty of Blue My Mind is its cinematography. Brühlmann evokes the world you see when you're blinking, the fluttering of lashes and the submersion of light in the shadow, and the way it looks like the breaking of waves in the ocean. This cinematic trick appears repeatedly, to add a confusing, hypnotic and dreamlike quality to the film, and to represent the ocean's call.
That metaphor of eyelashes and waves reflects the greatest metaphor of Brühlmann in play, which is the similarity between sirens and girls on the verge of adulthood. Like the sirens, the young girls are sometimes persecuted relentlessly, even predatoryly, by men. The mythical creatures and the young can not be sure of what place they occupy in the world they are beginning to explore. But both also have a unique strength. For all her sad scenes, Blue My Mind is not a tragedy, and Mia is not a victim. As you turn, you become more desperate and able to adapt to your circumstances, and it is powerful to look at.
What should be qualified?
Given all the nudity (male) and monstrous body horror, this film earns a solid R.
How can I see it?
Blue My Mind had an international launch in 2017 and won the Swiss Film Awards for best screenplay, actress and fiction film. He is currently touring film festivals. An American version is still pending.