Selena Gomez bares soul in ‘My Mind & Me’

Selena Gomez’s documentary “My Mind & Me” premiered on Apple TV+ on Nov. 2, 2022. At its core, the film explores the artist’s struggles with mental and physical health and how these struggles have shaped her relationships, identity and career.

“Because I have the platform I have, it’s kind of like I’m sacrificing myself a little bit for a greater purpose,” Gomez said in a Rolling Stone interview on her nerves surrounding the film’s vulnerability. “I don’t want that to sound dramatic, but I almost wasn’t going to put this out.”

Filming for the documentary began in 2016, with the film’s opening scenes depicting a neurotic Gomez growing insecure and frustrated with herself in the run up to her “Revival” arena tour, plagued by a gnawing desire to distance herself from her Disney-crafted image — a desire which she is shown to continue struggling with for years to come.

The Revival Tour was ultimately canceled after an incomplete, 55 show run, when Gomez experienced a severe crisis of health. What began as physical illness developed into an episode of psychosis which landed the artist in psychiatric care for several months, with the rare moments of lucidity spent plagued by intense paranoia targeted at those closest to her. The film interviews close friends and family members of Gomez who recount the severity of the ordeal, with footage of the media circus spurred in response interspersed between their recollections.

This episode ultimately led to Gomez’s bipolar disorder diagnosis — a revelation which, in tandem with occasional flare ups from Lupus, informs her journey to continue getting back up on the horse as depicted throughout the remainder of the film.

Witnessing the behind the scenes realities underscoring such publicized moments in Gomez’s career — from award show performances to album promotion junkets — weighs heavy on the heart as a viewer. Her exhaustion from forcing a brave face is palpable, her teary, impressively well-articulated rants to close friends cathartic.

Viewers are privy to Gomez navigating both her favorite parts of what she does — philanthropic endeavors — as well as those which prove most taxing — such as press trips, which she cites as making her feel “cheap.”

These moments of transparency are strengthened by gut-wrenching diary entries recited by Gomez in forlorn voiceover, and made all the more frustrating by clips borrowed from tabloid organizations having a field day with making her pain front page material.

Beyond the spotlight, some of the film’s most heartwarming moments find Gomez reconnecting with her past in Houston, Texas. From rehashing high school crushes with her cousin and lifelong best friend to paying visits to her childhood home and neighbors she hasn’t seen in years, it’s moving to watch as Gomez finds solace in making peace with various precursors to her present.

This isn’t your typical take on a celebrity documentary — it isn’t intensely focused upon Gomez’s rise to fame and previous projects, nor does it shed detailed light on personal relationships beyond those depicted through onscreen interactions. Rather, this film sees the artist inviting audiences into the most harrowing moments in her recent life, fighting to hold her own against mental and physical illness.

It’s raw and honestly difficult to watch at times — and the decision to zero in on such agonizing themes so unabashedly feels powerful. Refusing to shy away from the harshest realities which accompany battles one’s own mind wages against themselves for fear of audience discomfort makes that discomfort all the more impactful.

For all the bravery it took, I hope the part of Gomez which feels a clear sense of duty to use her struggles toward helping others feel less alone in theirs feels fulfilled, proud of a job hauntingly, beautifully done.

★★★★★/5 stars