Netflix’s A Part of You: Is the Movie Inspired by True Events?

Originally titled ‘En del av dig,’ ‘A Part of You’ is a Swedish drama brought to life by director Sigge Eklund in his feature debut, which centers on a 17-year-old teenager, Agnes, who aspires to be like her lively and popular older sister, Julia. When a tragic accident shatters their existence into pieces, Agnes has to retrieve her broken parts carefully and process her grief before it destroys her. Things are further complicated when the turbulent changes of her teenage life are burdened by self-destructive habits, loss, and the unintended consequences of her choices, along with mind-numbing pain that threatens to rip her emotionally and mentally apart.

Exploring themes of tragedy, memory, family bonds, and the connection needed to overcome hardships, the Netflix coming-of-age movie is a poignant realization of love and loss. At its core lies a raw, intimate discussion of how unending and chasmic the roller-coaster of adolescence can be, especially when you’re dealing with hard-hitting feelings that are sure to evoke a primal response within everyone. Given how somberly it presents the complicated emotions and choices of its characters, many will question whether the nuanced tale of teenage upheaval is based on a real story.

A Part of You Explores the Grief and Loss of its Writer

The narrative of ‘A Part of You’ was born out of scriptwriter Michaela Hamilton’s own experiences from her past. With the film following a young teen who loses her sister, the exploration of pain and loss told through the story was inspired by Hamilton’s own tragic loss of her younger brother. The Sigge Eklund directorial captures the most brutal and unimaginable portions of how being young can be so terrifying, especially when an inexplicable event of madness and tragedy looms over your life and casts a shadow over everything.

In an Instagram post, Hamilton stated, “This story is deeply personal to me, as I lost my 19-year-old brother in an accident seven years ago. I felt compelled to write about both sides of loss – the immense pain of it, but also the love and hope that can emerge in the process. I’m honored to have this fantastic team bringing this script to life, and to be able to share it with a global audience on Netflix is truly a dream come true.” — translated from Swedish. The writer’s experiences informed the natural and understated reflection of how devastating loss can be.

The Swedish writer’s brother, William, was involved in a car crash accident, not dissimilar to Julia’s. In 2016, he passed away tragically, and the film pays tribute to that loss and his life at the very end. After his crash, the doctors told the family that he would survive, but his back had been broken. They also said it would take an inordinate amount of time for him to regain his feeling and motor skills from the chest down. Unfortunately, this diagnosis proved moot because William passed away a few days later. It was a heart-rending and traumatic affair for the family and the writer, who was called back to her home in a shell-shocked state.

“Death is so sudden. So absolute,” said Hamilton. “It splits the lives of those around it in half and separates this terrible moment from the rest of everything you are and have. A parenthesis in razor-sharp black.” That same excruciating loss is brought to painstaking life in the harrowing scenes when Agnes and her mother come face-to-face with Julia’s death. Their stages of grief, and the intensity with which it plays out in their minds and bodies, are brilliantly displayed with focus and attention. All of it is filled with microscopic details about our collective humanity in moments of utter despair.

The writer continued her memory of William’s death by summarizing the cold surrealness of her situation after she got the news. “Now the rain is pouring down around me. Somehow we knew it, even though the sky was blue. Unfortunately, more than the weather changed quickly. Unfortunately, it hurts so much that it wasn’t the only thing on its way.” No words could capture her grief in that awful moment, but her spirit and her loss were channeled into the story of ‘A Part of You’ and into the struggles of Agnes. Like her, Agnes is unable to reconcile with the traumatic element of Julia’s death, but the film tackles it with deep sensitivity and care for its participants.

One of the salient aspects of ‘A Part of You’ is how it never overeggs the pudding in terms of how emotional or sentimental it wants to get. Instead, it possesses a great understanding of presenting difficult and hard themes through the realm of reality, where the emotions remain in the underlying silence of a conversation or in the subtle expressions of its characters. Eklund talked about his desperation to translate Hamilton’s script to the screen. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for a screenplay that captures the horror and the magic of being a teenager,” he told Netflix.

The director added, “When I read Michaela Hamilton’s story I was blown away by the fact that it was all in there. The desperation and the beauty and that sense of urgency that you can only feel when you are 17.” There are two overpowering elements within the Netflix film: grief and the unintended consequences of our actions. Both lend the narrative a complexity that elevates it above its peers, particularly in the way they’re tackled with such sensitivity. These themes, however, have found shape in films like the 2007 romance drama ‘Atonement’ and the 2010 Japanese film ‘Norwegian Wood.’

In both films, there is a stark, unapologetic look into how people’s lives spiral out of control and how we deal with those feelings of loss. The protagonist of ‘Atonement,’ Briony, shares a similar sibling relationship to the one portrayed in ‘A Part of You.’ Briony has an elder sister she’s jealous of because she is the object of affection of Briony’s crush, Robbie. As a young child, Briony makes decisions she can’t alter and has to spend her whole life grieving and trying to move on. Similarly, in ‘Norwegian Wood,’ Toru Watanabe is a young man who loses his best friend to suicide and must confront his grief through the girlfriend of his deceased friend.

Both ‘Atonement’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’ are complicated explorations of a tainted past, love, life, death, longing, and hope, which isn’t far from the Swedish drama’s emotional heartbeat. While crafting the narrative, Hamilton had to claw out the hurt and pain from her past and present it truthfully on screen. Perhaps, in a strange way, the film may be her attempt at healing those scars. The tragedy of William’s death is etched forever in the minds of the writer, but it also brought her family together through its shared grief. With Agnes’ life and struggles depicted so starkly and with such honesty, it’s a testament to her courage for putting up something so personal for everyone to see.

Read more: A Part of You: All Locations Where the Netflix Movie Was Filmed