Blue My Mind begins like any standard teen drama – fifteen-year-old Mia (Luna Wedler) is new in town and trying to play it cool around the in-crowd she longs to join. The usual themes are all present and accounted for, including a difficult relationship with her parents and numbing the pains of youth with sex, drugs, and alcohol. There's also that one alluringly beautiful girl (Zoe Pastelle Holthuizen) who somehow manages to exude confidence and leadership despite being in the most awkward stage of life. What’s different about this film is that Mia isn’t bullied or shunned from this inner circle, instead she develops a genuine friendship with the self-assured Gianna (Holthuizen). They become dedicated friends who come to rely on one another amidst the chaos of growing up. And what's special about this film is how it uses Mia’s unearthly transformation as an allegory for puberty.
In this impressive grad student feature, writer/director Lisa Brühlmann depicts the pain and isolation of puberty in a truly unique fashion. While there are a number of moments reminiscent of coming-of-age titles like Raw, Thirteen, and Ginger Snaps, the practical effects and imagery used to illustrate the struggle Mia endures makes Blue My Mind stand out among typical teen dramas. Viewers are quickly immersed in Mia’s world, whether it's sitting in class with her or in her bedroom where she harbors fear and confusion over what's happening to her body. Sinking into her isolation she uses sex and drugs to numb everything, all while distancing herself from her parents. Her feeling that no one could ever understand what she's going through is extinguished only by the love of Gianna, who is always there to save her from herself. It's beyond refreshing to watch this realistic female friendship emerge on screen.
It's difficult to write around exactly what it is Mia is becoming, but I don't want to spoil the poignant beauty of her transformation. Regardless, it's Brühlmann's visual imagery of the physical and emotional changes that are so memorable. Aside from the intentional harm Mia inflicts on her body with sex and drugs, it has begun morphing in unnatural and terrifying ways. The practical effects never feel outlandish or false and neither do Mia's attempts to stifle or hide them. In fact, everything about Blue My Mind, from the realistic to the fantastical rings true. It may strike some viewers as too similar to other body horror coming-of-age films to stand on its own. But while the story of a young girl becoming a woman may be one we've seen and read a hundred times, this one manages to reach new depths.