|Something Must Break's Saga Becker "Sebastian/Ellie"|
My first thought upon screening Something Must Break (Nånting måste gå sönder) is "I'm loving this film." My second was, "Please keep on being good." Happily, I can share with you that I kept on loving the film, so much so that rather than leave the experience to viewing the protected online screener, I went to see it on the big screen during Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. To my added pleasure, actress Saga Becker was in attendance. Yaay!
In my humble opinion, Ester Martin Bergsmark is a director to watch. She has already won awards for her documentaries in her native Sweden, but Something Must Break is her first fiction film, and I can't wait to see what she handles next.
Bergsmark's cast is young, not only in age, but in screen credits. Lead actress, Saga Becker, is making her film debut and does a stunning job as the trans character Sebastian, a young man working at a dead end factory job. Sebastian has such low self-esteem and is so starved for romantic love that he admits that he will allow anyone to do anything to him just to be loved. Sebastian has a confidant in Lea (Shima Niavarani), but she has her own girlfriend problems and while she tries to help Sebastian with some advice, he is not ready, nor is he able to take it.
When Sebastian is rescued by Andreas (Iggy Malmborg), he falls in love so deeply with his hero that he becomes obsessed with him. He collects objects that Andreas has used, he follows him around town, and fantasizes about being with him. Bergsmark's dreamscape vision of of Sebastian's emotions are reflected in the slow motion portrait shots and echoed in the soundtrack of the film. "I've never loved this hard before," is a lyric that perfectly captures Sebastian's worship of Andreas while the desaturated image that accompanies a Peggy Lee ballad is both beautiful and disturbing, not because of what is taking place in the scene but because of how it encapsulates Sebastian's feelings of heartbreak and confusion.
While there is no question that Becker is the lead in the film, and that she manages to rise to the demands of her challenging role, much also rests on the shoulders of Iggy Malmborg. He had to be believable as the object of Sebastian's obsession in order for us to truly identify with how deeply that character had fallen in love with him. While the character of Andreas shows weakness in his inability to admit that he is gay, Malmborg had to find the right acting balance between playing a confused character, and being a strong secondary lead. Malmborg is successful in walking this tightrope because we adore him when Andreas and Sebastian lock themselves away from the world and are content, yet we hate him for the way he treats Sebastian when they move out into the real world.
"It's like I'm destroying myself to become her." Like the duality of his hair colour, Sebastian is stuck between being Sebastian, the outward boy and Ellie, the young woman who sometimes makes an appearance in lipstick and heels. Early in the film, Lea admonishes, "You can never say yes or no." As his yearning for a complete relationship with Andreas evolves, Sebastian must also evolve from his world of "maybe" and emerge as his true self in order to stop himself from disappearing. The life lessons experienced in Something Must Break is beautifully captured by Bergesmark, and superbly realized through Saga Becker's acting. I'm not sure where Becker will go as a trans actress in Sweden, but she has a breakout role in this film, and I truly hope that she is able to grace the screen in many films to come.
Photo Credit: www.insideout.ca