In the most deeply personal aspect of “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” the singer-actor reads excerpts from her journal filled with self-doubt and anxiety, including lines like “I have to stop living like this” and “I want to know how to breathe again.” Opening up about her bipolar disorder is surely a service, but the six-year span encompassed by this intimate Apple TV+ presentation labors to flesh out its revelations into a documentary.
Directed by Alek Keshishian, whose credits include “Madonna: Truth or Dare” as well as Gomez’s 2015 video “Hands to Myself,” the film clearly displays extensive access to its subject, beginning with preparation for her 2016 tour during rehearsals at Los Angeles’ Sports Arena, before she cut the performance schedule short due to anxiety and panic attacks.
From there, “My Mind & Me” (also the title of a new song Gomez is releasing) careens pretty much all over the place, following her on a trip to Kenya, tagging along as she endures questions from paparazzi, accompanying her as she visits people from her old neighborhood, and reflecting her irritations dealing with press as part of a media tour.
“I feel like a product,” she complains at one point, later confiding to friends that the kind of inane questions she regularly fields can seem like “such a waste of time.”
The documentary is perhaps most notable in showcasing Gomez’s work on behalf of the Rare Impact Fund, an effort to raise money to assist youths dealing with mental-health concerns and issues.
The main problem is that there’s a scattered, almost arbitrary feel to what Gomez is shown doing and where, while skipping over some relevant recent additions to her resume, like the success of the Hulu series “Only Murders in the Building.”
“As great as life was, underneath all of it I was struggling,” Gomez says during a speech, which neatly sums up the underlying point of the documentary, and the fact that even someone who seemingly has it all can be plagued by challenges.
It’s easy to downplay the courage it takes for celebrities to let down their guard and acknowledge their frailties or fallibility, revealing a side of herself the public doesn’t always see. That alone makes the message significant – a point underscored by the jetsetter parts of Gomez’s life on display here – and if it helps one person, more power to her.
Still, if Gomez chafes, understandably, at feeling like “a product,” “My Mind & Me” doesn’t escape the notion that it’s leveraging that fame, and the product-like part of her existence, in order to sell it.
“Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” premieres November 4 on Apple TV+. Disclosure: My wife works for a unit of Apple.