This article contains spoilers about Always Amber
Always Amber (originally Alltid Amber), starring Amber, Luciano and Alma Mastracci among others, premiered on Bohemia Euphoria on the 9th July after it’s original release in August 2020. This documentary, directed by Swedish filmmakers Hannah Reinikainen and Lia Kim Hietala, explores universal themes such as love, betrayal, loss and longing in a predominantly unexplored world. Following the life of Amber and their trans best friend Sebastian, we enjoy a seemingly unfiltered front row experience of their adolescent lives.
The film begins with Amber, a non-binary teen, at a consultation meeting at a clinic, during which they give a heartfelt speech to the nurse attending to them about why they would like to undergo a mastectomy. To them, they are perceived as a girl by the outside world because of their breasts:
“They get sexualised which I’m really uncomfortable with. So I think I’d feel more myself without them. It’d suit better how I perceive myself. I want others to have the same perception.”
The expression of Amber’s journey with body dysmorphia starkly contrasts the confident manner in which they carry themself. They know their personal style and wear every new hair colour and style like they came out of the womb that way, unashamedly punk and candid.
Always Amber skillfully captures the essence of Amber’s friendship with Sebastian; how two outcasts find solace in one another and how they take on the world together. They prove to be a truly inseparable pair, sharing meaningful conversations and even spending a lot of time in the bathtub.
“When I began to feel that I wasn’t a girl, he was the first to suggest testing different pronouns. That felt great. I don’t think I would have realised so quickly if I wasn’t friends with Sebastian.”
It certainly comes as a surprise when Amber’s friendship with Sebastian falls apart when a third party, Amber’s boyfriend Charlie, is introduced.
“First Sebastian was pretty jealous. He was used to being number one. And now he wasn’t quite as important. But I knew they were pretty similar. So I thought: You don’t like each other now but you’re going to.”
And that they did. In an unexpected turn of events, Sebastian and Charlie become joined at the hip, cutting Amber out and becoming a couple not long afterwards.
Amber Mastracci is fearless, whether wearing their heart on their sleeve, in their attempt at a DIY lip piercing, and being willing to trust Sebastian again towards the end of the documentary. After parting with Sebastian and their hesitance to share details of their pending procedure with their mother, Amber seems to have no choice but to undergo the journey leading up to their gender reassignment treatment alone.
The film is all about second chances. Amber has a second chance to experience a romantic relationship with Olivera, and to heal from Sebastian and Charlie’s betrayal. Alma, Amber’s mother, aims for another chance at love by going out on a date after years of grieving her husband. On the more platonic side of things, Amber gives Sebastian another chance at friendship.
Coming full circle, the eponymous protagonist of the Swedish indie film gets their official diagnosis (Gender Identity Disorder) from the nurse we first meet them speaking with and a referral to a surgeon who can perform their top surgery. Even though Amber postpones the surgery, at least their diagnosis means this option is open to them.
Always Amber is available for streaming on our website complete with English subtitles. Click here to watch the trailer or to access the film.