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.
Fascinating and at times frustrating, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is an intriguing documentary that’s also a public service announcement, a plea for help and a product rebranding exercise all in one. Uncommonly raw, Gomez allows unprecedented access to her behind-the-scenes life, one fraught with turmoil, self-doubt, and a lack of direction. Floundering after the pressure of mounting an international tour becomes too much and must be cancelled, the performer is seen returning to her hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas in order to ground herself, as she seeks some greater purpose in her life.
It’s hard not to have sympathy for Gomez, though at times she seems surprisingly unaware of how the world regards her. Expressing frustration after sitting through an interview with an admittedly tone-deaf reporter, she claims that she is being treated as a “product.” The reality is that all celebrities are to a certain extent products, ones with specific brands that appeal to certain demographic groups.
The double-edged sword Gomez must contend with is coming to the realization that what with the industry she is in, maintaining a sense of individuality is nearly impossible. This is the battle at the core of the movie and her life – how to cling to her identity in a world that denies her one.
It’s a compelling problem and as Gomez attempts to come to terms with it, the viewer comes to realize before she does, that those she keeps around her may not have her best interests at heart. More than one awkward situation arises that had me questioning why her security and managers did not go further to protect her. It’s obvious Gomez is in a fragile state, yet they have her facing manic crowds and ruthless paparazzi. Don’t the venues she frequents have more secure entrances that can be used? Perhaps most bothersome is a media appearance in which she gazes into a mirror, opens envelopes that contain questions she’s never seen and is asked to read and answer them. The queries cut far too deep and the fact that her people did not vet this event seems negligent.
Diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder, Gomez becomes proactive, trying to find out as much information as she can so that she can take better care of herself. More importantly, she uses the platform she has in order to reach out to others suffering as she is. She understands that to do so, she must be brutally honest about her own situation to give her movement any sense of credibility. This is not without its challenges, yet she shows an indefatigable drive, knowing that in helping others, she is helping herself and that in staying busy, she is keeping her demons at bay.
As a film, My Mind & Me has its flaws – it veers off track when Gomez visits Kenya and seems to be treading water at times, feeling a bit long even at 95 minutes. But the purpose behind the movie and Gomez’s intentions cannot be faulted. In the end, it proves to be a portrait of a woman becoming self-actualized, one who understands her unique position in the world and finds the strength not to wallow in self-pity but to reach out a helping hand to those in need. In the end, you’ll likely be impressed with this young woman and eager to see what she will accomplish next.
The weight of the world falls on this young woman’s shoulders and in recent times, the weight has crushed her; sometimes from the inside out. “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” candidly explores Gomez’s youth through footage and clips as early as the age of seven from the “Barney” show on through the recent tours and shows. We meet childhood friends from the past and those who have stayed close, and we travel this journey of self-discovery with Gomez to honestly pull back the layers of her life.
The boldly open interviews with Gomez reveals powerfully troubling times that she has, of recent times, found answers to questions pertaining to both physical and mental health. And it is with this openness that we not only understand this musical icon and actress better, but she opens the doors of communication and realization that mental health issues shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about, but to be recognized and addressed…she may be accomplishing one of her most important and lofty goals; saving people.
On the surface, most of us think Gomez has it all…fame, fortune, the world at her feet. But as the cameras reveal, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Obnoxious paparazzi bombarding her at every waking moment, journalists asking insipid questions (I hope I’m never one of them), and social media hounds attempting to devour her confidence. There are two sides to the “fame coin” and Gomez invites us in to see them both.
Admittedly, as a film critic and someone to lives under a rock when it comes to music, I only knew Gomez as an actress and became quite impressed with her in the Hulu hit and award-winning series “Only Murders in the Building” which she also executive produced. There’s so much more to this beautifully talented woman who dares to speak about what obstacles she has overcome and those she continues to address. At the ripe old age of 30, Gomez has accomplished more than most do in a lifetime and now she needs and finds a new purpose for her next chapter…helping others.