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Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me review: A fascinating and frustrating pop doc | Selena Gomez

Jhere’s a feeling through Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, a new documentary on Apple TV+, of a ghostly me, the ghosts of different films that could have been. The bulk of the film’s first 15 minutes is set in 2016, as a surprisingly younger Gomez – she was 23 then, 30 now – prepares for the world tour in support of her 2015 Revival album, The project intended to reshape his image from a Disney star to a single adult sexual being.

The footage has all the hallmarks of a tour documentary – a relaxed, more profane version of Gomez in costume fittings and tour rehearsals; a moment when she cracks under the pressure, panicking through tears to friends and crew that nothing is good enough; a montage of cities and scenes and poses and cheers and cries, overwhelmed fans. And then cut. The Revival tour was canceled after 55 performances, as Gomez entered a mental institution. The talking heads that don’t appear for the rest of the film are testament to the absolute hell Gomez was in.

And then, cut — to 2019, as Gomez recovers from a searing three years of talked-about but unexplored tumult: a kidney transplant in 2017 due to complications from lupus, an autoimmune disease, a near-death reconciliation. breath and a final break with Justin Bieber, reconciliation with his family after psychosis, another stay in a treatment facility with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Pop star documentaries are almost always more interesting for what they omit than for what they include, but My Mind & Me, directed by Alek Keshishian – whose 1991 Madonna film Truth or Dare established the mold and remains the absolute reference of the genre – is particularly interesting. intriguing mix of choices. There’s no mention of her well-received return to television on the popular Hulu series Only Murders in the Building, her equally endearing cooking show Selena + Chef, or the role she and her mother played in the production of the controversial series 13 Reasons Why; there is only a brief reference to Revelación from 2021, his first album in Spanish.

Instead, My Mind & Me is a compelling, if sometimes frustrating, assemblage of tangents, elisions, and redirections collected over six years, during which Gomez’s personal life and understanding of his brain changed dramatically. . Although Gomez promises, in the first images of the film, to “tell you only my darkest secrets”, the film looks less like an act of exorcism, propaganda or observation – a la Dancing with the Devil from Demi Lovato, Miss Americana by Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish. The world is a bit hazy – only like a blind, sincere, transparent and incomplete archive of hard-earned growth.

That’s not a bad thing, as Gomez remains an eminently likable and winning figure. Perhaps because so much of her career has been defined less by her artistry than by her ability to be engaging and empathetic across formats, Gomez, arguably more than any of her peers, is the pop star with Sliding Door’s most visible self – a normal girl, the kind who gets burgers at the drive-thru, as she does with her cousin Priscilla in the film’s midsection in her hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas. Of her cohort of millennial pop stars, Gomez has publicly irritated the expectation to be seen and the celebrity imperative to perform the most.

Mind & Me is therefore ambivalently promotional – a pop star documentary primarily concerned with the usefulness of fame even as, for the second half of the film, she markets her 2020 comeback album Rare. Why go on if, as she says in the film’s extremely cheesy interludes, showing her diary entries onscreen over blurry black-and-white images of Gomez, success “killed me.”

The answer, as much as the movie provides one and delivered with Gomez’s reliable earnestness, is to connect with people. My Mind & Me captures his ultimate terror and relief as he presents his bipolar diagnosis and documents his truly remarkable efforts to destigmatize mental illness. It’s more effective when Keshishian, a truth filmmaker, catches Gomez telling it rather than following her into situations that show it – her old college, her childhood home, an old man’s house. neighbor friend. The disconnect seems most acute in an in-between chapter in Kenya, where Gomez visits a school she helped support through the now controversial We Charity. Gomez cares, clearly; the images – a focal point of the film – are always cringe.

Keshishian, as in Truth or Dare, works in moments that complicate Gomez’s angelic image: being brief with an overly flippant interviewer, refusing to listen to a friend, reacting badly to genuine concern. My Mind & Me stands strongest and bravest, in times like this, illustrating Gomez’s humanity through universal abilities we don’t want to record. The Taylor Swift-directed documentary would never be. At one point, her friend Raquelle notes that most people wouldn’t know how “complex” Gomez is beneath the cuteness. At its best, My Mind & Me glimpses this prickly complexity, from a star who does her best to share it and hide it.

theguardian Gt

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