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Always Amber

average rating is 4 out of 5


Amber Jackson


Posted on:

Aug 16, 2022

Film Reviews
Always Amber
Directed by:
Hannah Reinikainen Bergenman & Lia Hietala
Written by:
Hannah Reinikainen Bergenman & Lia Hietala
Amber Mastracci

“Amber belongs to a queer generation which no longer wants society to dictate their identity. The teenagers proudly inhabit a spectrum of fluid identities and master their first loves and losses.”


Released in 2020 and with support from the Swedish Film Institute, Always Amber is a courageous, pure-of-heart documentary situating Amber, a non-binary teenager seeking to find their place in Swedish society today. Filmed between 2016 and 2019, the film charts Amber’s coming-of-age and their transition into adulthood as well as their true self. This documentary provides a refreshing narrative that pushes binaries and boundaries as it follows Amber and their friends and loved ones making their own definitions of what it means to be alive.


The documentary begins with discussions concerning Amber’s transition journey, as they explore their options to match their physical appearance with how they feel on the inside. We get an insight into the medical perspective of Amber’s feelings as they speak with a nurse about their gender dysphoria, alongside the emotional aspects of Amber’s gender identity. Conversations on camera are always handled sensitively and in an empathetic way by the directors, highlighting their willingness to allow Amber to tell their own story. As conversations had are often up close and personal, the directors have allowed Amber to really take a front seat with production, as they are able to film themselves and their friends in a more private way and thereby the content is at their discretion and their choice. Amber explains the camera to people by saying “two girls are making a film about my life,” which shows how much of their own voice is included within the seventy minute piece. It is an innovative way to create a documentary and this should be commended.


As much of the film’s content comes directly from Amber, there is a focus on real-life teenage drama and experiences, but from a queer perspective of those within the film seeking to reject patriarchal social convention. Amber provides a close personal insight into their everyday life, alongside videos from their childhood, where they explain the loss of their father. It is emotional and is a testament to the familial support that Amber receives from their mother as she worries for her child’s happiness and gender transition, alongside Amber not wanting to upset a parent. The complexities and imperfections of life are handled wonderfully all by Amber, who just wants to show the audience how simply trying to live as a queer person can be.


Emotions run freely and without censorship as Amber muses on their long-term friendship with Sebastian and the viewer gets to watch them live in a very open way as they guide each other through the difficulties of their trans/non-binary identities. This fraternal relationship and what stems from that provides a powerful insight into growing up, as lessons on love and heartbreak are learned. Relationships and honestly and anxieties are powerful when examined under a young queer lens, especially in this modern day with the force of social media for teenagers (ie. Snapchat). The film strikes a chord when Amber must confront those in their life that they care about the most and decide what is best for themselves – proving again that this film has all of the markings of a moving coming-of-age story.


Amongst the heartache, we also get to see many positive and fluid relationships and friendships, of all sexualities and genders, and the safe spaces that young queer people inhabit and can fully be themselves in. Although they have had to adapt massively to their surroundings, there is an acknowledgement that things are improving too. As the film draws to a close, Amber surmises: “How much should I change myself just because society doesn’t change fast enough” – and this is such a takeaway statement.


Always Amber is a beautifully raw film that provides just one of many real and heartfelt experiences that young queer teenagers have whilst trying to find their place in the world. The vulnerability and trust that Amber puts in the camera and the viewer is empowering and well worth a watch for all film lovers.

Watch Always Amber online now.

About the Film Critic
Amber Jackson
Amber Jackson
Documentary, LGBTQ+, Amazon Prime
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