Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me Review: Singer gives glimpses at her darkest secrets and comes out kinder
Read Pinkvilla's review of Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me below. Selena Gomez's highly-awaited documentary releases on November 4 and documents the singer-actress' mental health struggles.
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me
Cast: Selena Gomez
Director: Alek Keshishian
Streaming Platform: Apple TV+
*TRIGGER WARNING* Taking us on a journey filled with her many trials and tribulations when it comes to her mental health, Selena Gomez bares her heart and soul in Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me. Using her diary entries in the documentary, Selena emotes candidly on her battle with Lupus and its relapse, bipolar disorder, a psychotic breakdown which made her eventually seek treatment, her highly publicised relationship with ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber, and more. Kickstarting the shoot in 2016 first - during The Revival Tour which was cancelled after 55 concerts owing to Sel's mental health battle - and then time jumping to 2019 until well after the COVID-19 pandemic, we're given an introspective look at the woman behind Selena Gomez. As per the official synopsis of Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me: "After years in the limelight, Selena Gomez achieves unimaginable stardom. But just as she reaches a new peak, an unexpected turn pulls her into darkness. This uniquely raw and intimate documentary spans her six-year journey into a new light."
Given the number of documentaries being made on musicians, you reach a stagnancy level for this genre quite quickly, especially with how PR-driven the narrative always seems. While you can't be raw through and through, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is an ambitious attempt at debunking Selena Gomez as not just an American girl-next-door, but so much more complex. Moreover, Sel's biggest asset is the "connections" in her life, and to see the way Raquelle Stevens and even her management team balance out her nerves with empathy and even anger when needed, is refreshing to watch. Thanks to minimal concert footage and not ending on a finale song note, the documentary instead goes for a more realistic approach, especially when it comes to Selena's mental health struggles, which haven't magically vanished like in Disney movies.
With the obstacle of a 96-minute runtime, there's a certain distortion that distracts us from truly focusing on any one aspect of Selena Gomez's life. While the cinematic visualisation as a breather between moments is breathtaking to watch, you're also forced into a suspension of disbelief, which isn't what the documentary is about. You aren't given ample time to breathe. Not digging deep into the reason behind her breakdowns, also negates the "darkest secrets" and "intimacy" that Gomez promised at the beginning. What people might also wonder about is why Selena Gomez's acting career wasn't highlighted, especially her immense TV comeback with Only Murders in the Building. Or even her Disney days, except for a little prelude.
Selena Gomez has always been an anomaly to me when it comes to superstardom. While achieving success at a very young age and having her private life paraded around in public - not by her own words, mind you - Sel has obligingly taken a step back and been more low-key through the last few years. Hence, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is something that intrigued so many (including this reviewer!), ever since its announcement, as we wished to deep dive into who really Selena Gomez is; herself or a version of herself. At the very beginning, Selena reads a diary entry of how she promises to let us in on her "deepest" secrets, especially from the past few years with her illnesses. There are some deeply upsetting moments sprayed throughout as we witness Gomez reaching her breaking point, putting her mask back on, and working through it all and taking off the mask before it starts or all over again like a hamster wheel.
I bet you're curious about how many Justin Bieber references make it through Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, and besides newspaper clippings and paparazzi barking out JB questions at her, it's a pretty "rare" occurrence. No pun intended. Going through the "worst heartbreak" of her life, Selena states that it's the "best thing" that's happened to her. And not delving further into it speaks volumes of the kind of person Gomez is. Through her very difficult phases, especially with her Lupus diagnosis and bipolar disorder, Sel chooses to blame herself and take ownership rather than passing it on to her loved ones, and even the ones she lost in the process. A poignant moment occurs when Selena speaks candidly about her psychosis episode which had her lashing out at her mom and step-dad, but that she understood and had their support. Apologising to them for her harsh treatment, we also parallelly see Gomez being critical of herself when she visits Kenya for philanthropic purposes, questioning if she's actually making a difference and saving lives or if it's all for show. Also playing a significant role in Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is Sel's BFF Raquelle Stevens, as well as her entire team, who don't take her outbursts lightly and instead try to keep her calm, however way they can. Seeing the more uncomfortable moments like an argument between Gomez and Raquelle to the one in Kenya where Stevens gives Gomez a much-needed reality check gives us an understanding of the meddled mind frame she's really in.
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me director Alek Keshishian, who directed the critically acclaimed Madonna: Truth or Dare balances out the liberties he's been bestowed with, which is an inside look at Selena Gomez. What's admirable is he never lets the camera overstay its welcome or take disadvantage of the freedom he's been given, but manages to not romanticize her mental health struggles either. What is a problem is the short duration, with a three and half hours cut teased by the director, which explains the zig-zag narrative in under an hour and a half. What works is not taking the stereotypical method and interlacing concert footage - most of which has already been seen. After a typically awkward interview, Selena Gomez bursts out about how she felt like "Disney" again. You can tell how un-Disney Alex wanted Selena Gomez's documentary to be, with the ending being more open-ended and paradoxical, just like the main protagonist of the story. The introduction of a surprise new Selena Gomez song with the same name as the documentary is a mellow way to close things out and is also effective.
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me enables catharsis of some order in both Selena Gomez and the viewer with the bottom line being; treating not just people, but also yourself with kindness.
- While the reasons behind Selena Gomez's mental health struggles aren't explored just enough in Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, there isn't "sugar-coating" of it either.
- Selena Gomez's diary entries (as well as best friend Raquelle Stevens!) play the narrator to give an introspective look into the singer-actress' paradoxical mindset.
- The ending isn't given the "happy ending" treatment but keeps it open-ended on Selena Gomez's journey to self-love rather than self-sabotage.
In finality, what we learn about Selena Gomez is that she's a paradox, she's enough but also a work in progress. You feel the same about Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me.
A writer - with 6+ years of experience - who loves to scribe! Currently curating content for Hollywood and jumping th...Read more