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Inside Out Film Festival: Review of 'Something Must Break'

'Something Must Break' screened as part of the Inside Out Film Festival
'Something Must Break' screened as part of the Inside Out Film Festival
Photo courtesy of Inside Out Film Festival, used with permission

In "Something Must Break" (dir. Ester Martin Bergsmark), Sebastian/Ellie (Saga Becker) happens across Andreas (Iggy Malmborg) in a most dramatic fashion; the latter rescues the former and the pair embark on a rollercoaster ride of drinking, sexual exploration, and self-analysis.

Sebastian/Ellie (neither's full identity is on display, but rather a borderless presentation of the two simultaneously) is a striking, red-haired waif who has some sort of idea of where her life is headed, but still feels lost at the enormity of it all. And when Andreas comes along, he unlocks something with her that allows her to be free and relaxed, and even channel a bit of Marilyn Monroe at times. Conversely, Andreas is drawn to Sebastian/Ellie in a way he doesn't completely understand, only that there's a powerful chemistry linking them.

There's a very dreamlike setting to Bergsmark's filming, with shaky camerawork, pale colours and sporadic voiceovers by Sebastian/Ellie. In the first half of "Something Must Break", Bergsmark uses these effects a little too much but smartens up in the second half. In particular, the pond scene with Sebastian/Ellie and Andreas is really lovely, the kind of shot where you rationally know there's not much realistic about it but it's still nice to admire, the way you know a Monet floral painting doesn't depict real flowers but is still gorgeous.

The music also works really well to add to the atmosphere of "Something Must Break", as the throbbing beats pulsate, providing an anxious heartbeat for the 81 minutes of the film. And when combined with the dimly lit shots, it feels a bit like being in a grimy after-hours club where the stakes are go big or go home. The slightly askance appearances of both Andreas and Sebastian/Ellie contribute to this, as both seem just a couple of choices away from living with a bridge as their roof.

If director Bergsmark could do something about the voiceovers, which don't really add anything to "Something Must Break", then the movie could be a really solid look at love and transgender issues. But as it stands, it's just a couple pieces short of making the powerful statement it set out to make.