I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but “Going Mental” is one that I can add to my must watch list. I instantly fell in love with it, not just because of the unique and distinct characters it introduces or the catchy songs, but because it brings back feelings that I have suppressed from high school and occasionally suppress in the present. It’s a film everybody can easily relate too. It’s a film about being human and accepting who you are as an individual. It’s a film that everybody needs to see because, simply put, it’s beautiful and most of all: fun.
The opening scene introduces the main character, Shaina, having a falling out with two friends. She goes to the school counselor to seek guidance and he pretty much tells her to “keep it to herself” and even gives her a book that's titled that verbatim. Then, the first musical number hits where she later meets Dale, a guy who seems to be optimistic on the outside, but also struggles with depression and anxieties of sorts on the inside, just like Shaina herself.
First off, the way this was shot and edited felt super professional. Not once did I question a cut and I was thoroughly impressed with how the camera movements and cuts matched the choreography. That’s not easy to pull off and deserves a round of applause. It was seamless and felt natural where I forgot I was watching a student film.
Secondly, the music score. It was catchy, it had rhythm, and it felt fresh. The lyrics matched the scenes that happened prior and I think it’s a brilliant way to express how the characters felt. The fact we get so much of who the characters are through their dancing, their interactions with their environment, and the lyrics they sing, made me want to get to know them more as individuals. They felt like real people.
Which leads me to my third point, the acting. Both the actress of Shaina and the actor of Dale did a phenomenal job. I think the casting was on point and the two had a real chemistry on screen. Not only did they have to act and dance, but they had to sing. The filmmakers found two people who have great voices. It’s hard to find the right voice for a song, let alone an actor for the right part. Yet, director Camara Rauen pulled it off and found the right talent. Even the extras seemed to fit seamlessly.
Finally, speaking of directing, Camara Rauen nailed this on the head. I love how she brought something that’s still (surprisingly) unspoken of regarding the mental health of teenagers and people in general. She could have easily made this intense and depressing, but she chose to make it fun while tackling something serious. There is a sequence near the end that involves a lot of camera movement, dancing, lighting, props, extras, etc., and it looks so complex. There’s choreography with strings being attached to the actress and the lighting of red and blue, which really makes it a sight to see as it’s very well-thought out and almost poetic in a sense. Camara Rauen makes it seem like a piece of cake to pull of something that grand, which I envy.
I stated this before, but I’m going to state it again: I forgot I was watching a student film. It’s ambitious, it’s relatable, and it’s a ton of fun. If this was adapted into a feature, you better believe I’d be the first to buy tickets. I want to see the characters expanded on and introduce more songs that express how we all have felt. I want to see more of the dancing and production design. In other words… I want to see what else Camara Rauen can bring to the table, because she has the talent to pull off something extraordinary. Everybody involved in this student film did a wonderful job.