Transgender director Ester Martin Bergsmark incorporates the confusion and ambiguous experiences with understanding sexuality in Stockholm-set Something Must Break (Nånting måste gå sönder). The film title taken from a song by English band Joy Division intensely explores gender identity, sensuality and sexuality in a provocative love story. The androgynous Sebastian (Saga Becker) is a young transgender person struggling to find comfort in his own skin. Inside, Sebastian yearns to be his female alter-ego Ellie.
“In the darkness, amongst the shadows, is where I’m free,” remarks Sebastian with long red hair, prominent nose ring and delicate frame. He spends his evenings in dangerous territory, cruising dark woods, seedy bars and filthy toilets seeking affection. By day warehouse androgynous wardrobe wearing loner Sebastian, lives with friend Lea (Shima Niavarani) who declares that he has no sense of reality, is a dreamer and states “What you need is a good fuck!”
Attempting to pick up a man in a toilet, the situation turns violent as Sebastian misreads the invitation and is struck to the ground. Morten Harket wannabe Andreas (Iggy Malmborg) walks in and attempts to fight off the enraged mystery man, and both Sebastian and Andreas flee the scene. Before the two part ways, Sebastian rescues a tissue covered with Andreas’ nasal blood as a memento.
The two meet again by chance as Andreas is intoxicated and urinating against a park wall. Sebastian follows Andreas as he heads towards lone trees, but not for a sexual encounter but to throw up, a connection is established. The twosome partake in various prankish behaviour while drifting into a drug and alcohol infused relationship. “I’m not gay,” declares an aroused Andreas to which Sebastian replies, “Me neither.” Andreas goes on to respond, “You’re so beautiful I want to vomit.”
As the relationship becoming more physical, Andreas has difficulty in coming to terms with being bisexual, whilst Sebastian is keen to let Ellie slowly emerge. When Sebastian finds the courage to tell Andreas about Ellie, despite clearly being in love Andreas is fearful of the social repercussions, and refuses to acknowledge his feelings for Sebastian/Ellie publicly. To the audience it becomes apparent that they fear one another.
Frequent close-ups, grainy, handheld camera work give audiences a dreamlike view of edgy characters. Graphic sex infused with a pulsating eclectic soundtrack helps to soften the shock value. Saga Becker’s performance as Sebastian is remarkable “I’m not from here. I will soon disappear,” as he takes on the persona of Elle. The award-winning Something Must Break (Nånting måste gå sönder) is a 90 minute must see film about self-discovery and gender identity.