Apple TV+’s Intimate Portrait – The Hollywood Reporter

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Earlier than Selena Gomez launched Uncommon in 2020, the singer maintained a comparatively low profile. She barely did interviews and briefly deactivated her social media accounts. The album — a candy-sweet assemblage of anthemic, electro-pop self-love hits — marked a shift within the star’s relationship to the general public. Gomez would not be haunted by her Disney previous or her tumultuous relationships. She can be trustworthy about her struggles with the autoimmune illness lupus, self-worth, melancholy and anxiousness. She was taking management, reshaping her picture on her phrases. 

It’s unsurprising, then, that after the album got here a documentary. Selena Gomez: My Thoughts & Me is a companion piece to Uncommon, the subsequent step within the star’s seek for genuine self-expression. The documentary, which opens this 12 months’s AFI Movie Pageant on Wednesday, Nov. 2, observes Gomez from an intimate vantage level, watching her negotiate well being struggles that shortened her Revival tour in 2016, chronicling her hiatus from public life and grappling with questions on what comes subsequent. 

Selena Gomez: My Thoughts & Me

The Backside Line

Beneficiant in its candor.

Venue: AFI Movie Pageant
Launch date: Friday, Nov. 4 (Apple TV+)
Director: Alek Keshishian
Screenwriters: Alek Keshishian, Paul Marchand

Rated R,
1 hour 35 minutes

Not like different music documentaries (a well-liked format, as of late, for recalibrating movie star photos), Gomez’s undertaking operates at a rawer, grittier register. It’s textured by the 30-year-old star’s relative youth and her makes an attempt to speak actually, as a substitute of completely. One’s 20s — a decade that feels defining regardless that it isn’t — have a discomforting high quality to them, like a seat you may’t fairly settle into. The strain to carry out stability, ease and assuredness, to depart the too small confines of childhood and embrace the uncertainty of the remainder of your life, undoubtedly mounts whenever you add public scrutiny and the invasive gaze of paparazzi. 

My Thoughts & Me makes the parameters of Gomez’s life clear from its opening moments. The documentary, directed by Alek Keshishian (1991 Madonna doc Fact or Dare), begins with a quick second of Gomez on a press run earlier than economizing the story of the pop star’s Revival tour. In each of those montages, Gomez’s exhaustion is felt. She is drained, she says at one level; she doesn’t perceive what she’s doing, she says at one other. These scenes — anxious, candid, swelling with feelings — sign the form of documentary expertise one ought to anticipate: It is a journey of watching the singer unravel earlier than stitching herself again collectively. 

After making the tough determination to finish her tour, Gomez faces a difficult set of years. For followers of the star, her battle with lupus, her kidney transplant in 2017 and bipolar analysis won’t be revelatory, however My Thoughts & Me offers perception into the emotional toll these conditions took on Gomez. Keshishian treats his whole entry to the star as a privilege. He doesn’t defend us from her much less flattering moments, but in addition doesn’t push her past her boundaries. The star tells us sufficient to set the documentary other than different initiatives, however there are elisions and lacking particulars that also maintain her at a distance. 

We see Gomez breaking down in entrance of her tour crew as they attempt to reassure her; we see the younger star dragging herself away from bed to face every day of her job; we see her attempting to mitigate work-induced anxiousness assaults and nerves. We additionally see her fumbling by means of the method of self-care — leaning on her managers, her workforce, her pals.

But there are holes that nag after the credit of My Thoughts & Me, the type that carry up questions in regards to the objective of movie star documentaries that attempt transferring past blatant self-mythology. Are they instruments for catharsis, journalism-lite enterprises or items to followers? How a lot honesty can one fairly anticipate earlier than all of it begins to really feel invasive? There are occasions when, due to her established honesty, one desires Gomez to enter extra element. She describes her time at Disney in vaguely haunting phrases, however doesn’t specify the experiences that trigger her nightmares. She gestures at feeling pigeonholed and constrained by her high-profile relationships, however stops wanting elaboration. She doesn’t discuss being an actor. Maybe our need to know extra is a testomony to the spell My Thoughts & Me casts; you neglect that Gomez shouldn’t be a buddy however a stranger. 

The singer is conscious of this chasm, and components of My Thoughts & Me evoke the strain between Gomez’s simmering resentment and her absolute resignation. Though she’s at all times surrounded by folks, she yearns for extra real connections. The documentary doesn’t attempt to garner sympathy, however invitations viewers to interact with how fame traps you. When Gomez, who was born in Texas, returns to her hometown, her disposition shifts significantly. She is relaxed in conversations along with her cousins, former neighbors and present college students at her previous center faculty. In scenes the place Gomez ambles and drives aimlessly by means of her suburban hometown, the singer escapes right into a life that isn’t hers. 

As My Thoughts & Me strikes alongside, we start to note that the majority of Gomez’s journey requires her to just accept her actuality and curb her escapism. Throughout a visit to Kenya, when she visits a charity she donated to for girls’s training, Gomez and her buddy Raquelle Stevens have an easy dialog about how the singer could make her actual life extra liveable — one which she doesn’t must run from. The honesty, awkwardness and discomfort on show affirm the doc’s makes an attempt to embrace its topic’s three-dimensionality. 

That drive for complexity can also be constructed into My Thoughts & Me’s visible language, which makes use of colour and black-and-white in a means that mirrors Fact or Dare. Keshishian had entry to Gomez’s journal entries, which add a extra private-feeling layer to the undertaking. These excerpts present us a special facet of the singer, one liable to self-flagellation and conscious of her have to deal with her well being challenges — each psychological and bodily — as pals as a substitute of adversaries. Gomez’s voiceover studying of her entries accompanies footage of her in a Día de Muertos-esque ensemble.

There are occasions when all these components of My Thoughts & Me create an overstimulating aesthetic conflict — we swerve from these heavy diaristic interludes to frenzied tour footage to somber press tour interviews to emotional conversations. It may really feel like there’s no time to course of simply how a lot is going on to Gomez. And so, by the tip, we discover ourselves wanting what the singer desires too: a second to cease, stand nonetheless and take a breath.


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