In My Mind & Me, Selena Gomez boldly airs raw, unflattering versions of herself

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In one scene about three quarters of her new Apple TV+ documentary My mind & I During a press day in London in 2019, Selena Gomez is forced to sit alone in front of her reflection and answer the question, “What do you see when you look in the mirror?” At this point, the pop star is at the height of her battle with her bipolar disorder – she is unable to control her feelings and attitudes towards others, which is only made worse by the hectic schedule of the day. “Aha… [I’m] I’m still working on what I see in the mirror I suppose,” Gomez replies, sounding dejected.

The release of a documentary is often an opportunity for celebrities to set the record straight – whether by restoring a tarnished reputation or showing a rare side of themselves. In any case, public figures most often use the medium to appear more likable by showing viewers their most intimate, authentic selves. By these standards My mind & I differs from many films in the genre: not only do we see Gomez at her most volatile and antagonistic, but even she still seems to have no idea who she is as she tries to reveal herself to the public.

Filmed from 2016 to 2022 and directed by Alek Keshishian, what began as a project to document the singer/actor’s revival tour (which was eventually canceled due to mental health issues) evolved into an exploration of Gomez’s journey through several harrowing health crises, both physically as well as mentally. The film itself, which jumps back and forth in timeline, energy and mood, paints a disorienting picture of what Gomez has been through over those six years, from her philanthropic endeavors in Kenya to her advocacy for mental health to her time in and from being in the spotlight, to her visits to her Texas hometown.

Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me — Official Trailer | AppleTV+

Even if it doesn’t cover pretty significant moments from the last half decade — like her kidney transplant or her breakup with Justin Bieber — what My mind & I shows is a celebrity whose limits are being tested on all sides. While she’s on tour, despite always genuinely loving her fans, we see a raging 24-year-old Gomez backstage who’s furious at the logistics of her costume changes (“Rip goes one sleeve, and Rip goes the other!”). In some of the film’s most challenging scenes, Gomez lashes out at those close to her over small comments, blows accusations beyond measure during otherwise casual conversations (“Do you think I’m complaining about my job?”), or gets angry after unsatisfactory interviews ( “Stupidest thing I’ve ever done… I’m done. I can’t do this anymore”). In these moments, everyone else in the room falls silent, the tension is so palpable that you can even feel it through the screen.

At times, the whiplash of these drastic shifts makes it feel like the film is about to implode. Without a clear narrative structure, the various narrative threads seem hastily interwoven – but it is precisely this chaos that characterizes Gomez’s life. As someone who’s worked in showbiz since she was 7 and also grapples with her own demons — including voices in her head that drove her to an episode of psychosis in 2018 — Gomez was never entirely in charge of her own story. But instead of trying to control it, here she indulges in the clutter and lays everything out in the open for all to see.

It was only as a viewer that I realized that this shrill, cacophonous montage was her life The point of the film that I started appreciating it more. As all of these publicly projected and self-generated narratives meet, intertwine, flow and rub against one another, an honest – if sometimes unnerving – portrait of a real, whole, struggling person emerges.

“How do I learn to breathe my own breath?” Gomez asks in one of many journal entries that served as voiceovers throughout the film. It’s a sobering and disheartening proposition for anyone, let alone someone whose life has always been dictated by the unrelenting whims and demands of others. Instead of telling us who she is right off the bat My mind & I takes us with them in their efforts to find the answer to this question.

Gomez said in a recent interview With Rolling Stone that she’s worried about the documentary “too intense” released to the public and that she almost refused to sign off on it. I would argue that the intensity of the documentary and her involvement in it is the only reason to watch her – she’s done something really brave here. In My Mind & Me, Selena Gomez boldly airs raw, unflattering versions of herself

Adam Bradshaw

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