Inside Out 2024: Our Review of ‘Sebastian’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies by - May 29, 2024
Inside Out 2024: Our Review of ‘Sebastian’

Max (Ruaridh Mollica), just like any other creative queer person, faces criticism even from other characters within his circle. His family, especially his mother, reads his work and sees the subject matter as a legitimate reason for worry. Strangely enough, there are people closer to him than family, like Amna (Hiftu Quasem), a member of his writer group. As he ventures to write about sex work, she reminds him that his new chapters go against his themes. What she doesn’t know is that he’s doing sex work and using customers (including Ingvar E. Sigurðsson) for material.

Max and his sex worker alter ego Sebastian bleed into each other, especially as he has encounters outside work. A movie about sex work and sex will have its share of those scenes and this justifies said scenes. A guy Max picks up, Joel (Dylan Brady), tells him to slow down, and that they’re not in a porn. Sex scenes, like other scenes in Mikko Mäkelä’s Sebastian, probably comment on how people can’t tell between what’s fact and fiction. I can understand, however, if viewers can see that this kind of commentary isn’t something they’ve seen somewhere before. 

Another thing that makes me ambivalent about Sebastian is how most of the main actors keep expressing similar emotions. I can’t get a read on Quasem although one can argue that her voice gives nuances to Amna’s critiques. Mollica, though, looks like he’s always on the verge of tears, doing something for the sake of Max/Sebastian’s art. Sigurðsson’s perpetual rage means that there’s something that makes his arrangement with Sebastian that can destroy the latter in any second. Constancy brings tension, but it also reminds me of the old adage about variety, about not keeping everything the same. 

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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