Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is a brave leap of faith to connect with her audience on a deeper, more personal level.
WRITTEN BY M.N.MILLER / NOVEMBER 22, 2022
Imagine booking a spot on the world's biggest children's show when 95% of all child actors never book a single gig. Then, progressing into one of the biggest pop stars on the planet? While every gesture, choice, and decision is magnified. Even intimate relationships are under scrutiny. All during a time when a teenager where a young person balances out choosing their true self, primarily by trying on multiple hats. The stress of needing a kidney transplant is associated with lupus. Even the diagnoses of a serious mental health disorder? That's the crux of Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me'. A documentary film that tries to take an intimate look at the price of fame and the "whole health" effects.
Director Alek Keshishian is no stranger to exploring the nature of stardom with pop stars. Particularly the ones with the mega-wattage star power variety. Keshishian directed 1992's Madonna: Truth or Dare. Which was the highest-grossing documentary film of all time until Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine took over that title a decade later. (Currently, Keshishian's Madonna: Truth or Dare sits at number 23). Like that film, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me' attempts to emulate and stage cinéma vérité but includes a voice-over of the star. This could most likely be from a technique like journaling, often used in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), that allows a patient to process and identify any thought patterns to pinpoint triggers.
Keshishian, particularly Gomez, is not afraid to show the star in a fragile or negative light. There is a scene in particular at the 64-minute mark that is subtle but interesting. A member of Gomez's staff cares enough to inquire about her mental state. The remark and questions were hardly indelicate or rude, but Gomez is sensitive here. Her tone is mildly accusatory. She takes exception to being made to feel that she's complaining. You'll watch the film's subject become very emotional over what she assesses as a poor rehearsal.
You'll see Gomez's anxiety start to appear. Here fears of acting "looking" too young (and, for that matter, her insecurities about her physical features) seem to be amplified. Keshishian's camera will even capture her inner circle looking at her with wide-eyed concern. Even a slow boil, as Gomez, feels triggered. As she says, the media treats her life as a product instead of a person. These are examples of the manic lows of her bipolar disorder. Someone who struggles to remold her identity has a delicate balancing act of being her true self. The trigger forces her to put on a facade. The fear is the risk of being ostracized for that work in progress.
I'm not naive to think that Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me' is not guarding the star's reputation or completely transparent. After all, she has a professional image to protect, but this may not be intentional. Like most memoirs or biographies made into films, those tend to depict an unfiltered view of others. Then, in turn, they will show a filtered view of themselves that’s unconscious in away. The point being Gomez hints and admits to having episodes with family and friends that go beyond what we see on film here. This leads to her having immense regret over her behavior.
You can be cynical enough to focus on she allows a camera to follow her to several places that is only to her benefit. One, as she visits people who influenced her childhood. Another is where the former Barney star visits Meso-level institutions like her former school. The fact of the matter is this is part of her journey. A road to her recovery and where she is today, which is a maturation of her emotional intelligence. Any way you slice it, this documentary profile is a testament to Selena Gomez's leap of faith with this project.
That's a brave act in itself.