Lisa Brühlmann’s dark coming-of-age story Blue My Mind makes its Toronto debut at this year’s TIFF Next Wave Film Festival. While the teenage genre is typically rife with angst and pubescent shenanigans, the transformation of the central character, Mia (Luna Wedler), is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from a film of this nature.

A relatively soft-spoken youngster, Mia is forced to take on the daunting task of attending her first day at a new school. After a fellow classmate leads her in the direction of the popular crowd, she tries to make headway with the rowdy group, lead by “it girl” Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen), only to be swiftly rejected.

Mia’s time on the backburner doesn’t last long, though, as she’s quickly welcomed into the group and beings to adopt their irresponsible and far too adult behaviour. Giving into peer pressure she begins to experiment with drugs and alcohol, engage in sexual activity and becomes an ill-mannered, belligerent problem child at home.

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In her downward spiral, Mia picks up a new and unexplainable habit: Eating fish – the first time, directly from her fish tank. A short time later, her feet become webbed, legs scaly and discoloured, and a set of gills make a home on her abdomen. It’s apparent what’s happening here – she’s becoming a fully-formed mermaid.

Everything about Mia begins to make sense in the end – her detachment from her parents, perpetual state of unrest, and her constant need to find her place. Visually, the majority of Blue My Mind is shot in a blue-like cast, perhaps to symbolize her oneness with water.

Intrinsically Mia knew that she was different, evident by her behaviour. Once her transformation fully took place, she had little choice but to accept her truth and return to the water and its depths.

Screens:
Sunday, February 17, 8:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox