A delicate coming-of-age story and tale of female friendship mixed with squirm-inducing body horror, Lisa Bruhlmann’s debut, Blue My Mind—which also happens to be her film school thesis—cast shades of Raw, The Lure, and Cronenberg.
Luna Wedler delivers a bold, fearless performance as 15-year-old Mia. The new girl at school, she rebels against her overbearing mom and clueless dad, and falls in with a crew of bad girls who smoke, drink, fuck, and shoplift. As she navigates the world of dumb boys, creepy leering older men, awkward sexual encounters, and taking Molly on a school trip to an amusement park, she undergoes a startling metamorphosis that would make Kafka proud.
Not only is this girl becoming a young woman, but her body experiences other, less routine adolescent transformations as well. She discovers webbing between her toes, deep purple bruises cover her legs, and she has the sudden urge to gobble raw fish. But not like sushi, I’m talking pet fish out of her mother’s prized aquarium.
Wedler stands out—if this movie was in English, she’d be the next bit indie thing—but though she appears in almost every frame, she’s not alone in her efforts. Zoe Pastelle Holthuizen plays Gianna, the queen bee mean girl. But what begins as a stock high-school-movie cutout, evolves over time into a much more complex, nuanced character than the woo-girl she initially presents, and she plays both ends of the spectrum equally well.
Bruhlmann, who also wrote the script, uses the fantastic and horrific to delve into themes of growing up, awakening sexually, and the disorientation of trying to find your place in a world where you don’t fit. With a dreamy intimacy that’s not always comfortable, not to mention a self-surgery scene that may trigger gag reflexes, she crafts a lovely, assured, twisted look at youth from a female perspective. A bit uneven at points, I can’t believe it’s a first feature, let alone essentially a student film, and she announces herself as a fierce new talent. Whatever she does next, I’m there. [Grade: B+]
Blue My Mind plays the Seattle International Film Festival May 19 and May 28.