Horrific Female Coming of Age at What The Fest?!

Devanshi Khetarpal
Lisa Brühlmann’s “Blue My Mind” explores the bizarre coming-of-age of a girl who turns into a fish.

If you enjoyed Julia Ducournau’s “Raw,” “Blue My Mind” will likely be right up your alley. The coming-of-age film with a dark, fantastic twist explores the bizarre reality of a teenage girl trying to find her way through puberty and high school.

What The Fest?!, a four-day celebration of cerebral thrillers and films from all over the world at the IFC Center brought a host of delightfully horrific material to the screen last week. One of these films, Swiss director Lisa Brühlmann’s “Blue My Mind” (2017), was screened last Saturday as a part of the festival. The event, co-hosted by Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, was introduced by Samm Deighan, associate web editor of Diabolique Magazine and co-host of “Daughters of Darkness” podcast. Deighan led a short discussion of female adolescence as a source of horror and uncanny. Brühlman’s debut film, “Blue My Mind,” elevates the all too familiar coming-of-age narrative to something far more mysterious and ominous.

The movie starts with a young girl on a rocky seashore, her feet submerged in the stones. The name of the film hints at water and the first shot of the film makes its aquatic obsessions clear. Mia (Luna Wedler) is a 15-year-old girl who is forced to adapt to a new city and school just as her body and mind begin to undergo changes during puberty. While the film is different from most coming-of-age stories of its kind, it doesn’t completely stray from common tropes. Mia desires to be one of the cool kids in her class — she breaks the rules, uses drugs and rebels alongside her newfound clique.

“Blue My Mind” is disquieting. While Mia’s body changes and she explores her sexuality, she becomes what she devours. Her lack of self-love and her self-doubt begin to transform her body into that of a fish. She slowly finds herself changing, belonging where she shouldn’t belong, be that among Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen) and her friends, or the sea. Mia’s transformation, however, doesn’t arrive as a foreign, chilling concept. She violently pulls fishes out of her mother’s aquarium and consumes them mercilessly. She even attacks people thoughtlessly. The spiral of changes that overcome her body, therefore, are only predictable. One anticipates the film to turn out the way it dies: Mia becomes one with the water.

The cinematography of the film and its picturesque frames are appreciable. At the heart of the film is the silence as well as the turbulence of the sea. The wind that blows through Mia’s hair, for instance, almost seems to be signalling a sea breeze of some kind. Even in scenes where Mia’s body hasn’t started transforming, one can see her skin turn slightly blue. “Blue My Mind” has its share of flaws, but Brühlmann’s directorial debut as well as performances by Luna Wedler and Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen are stellar. “Blue My Mind” becomes predictable after the first few minutes but its uneasy handling of its subject and the horrors and estrangement contained within is where the real thrill of the film lies.

What the Fest?! took place from March 29 through April 1. “Blue My Mind” first premiered in the United States at Fantastic Fest on Sept. 27, 2017.

 

Email Devanshi Khetarpal at [email protected]

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