My Stuff

By
Nick Chen

Petri Luukkainen attempts to tackle modern materialism in My Stuff (aka Tavarataivas), a film stagnating somewhere between documentary and unimaginative fiction. The Finnish filmmaker directs and stars in his own experiment: he places his belongings in a storage facility for a year, only retaining one item per day. The concept alone is the type of activity usually left for TV shows with C-list celebrities raising money for charity – except here the donations are friends and relatives bringing him food.

Usually these type of documentaries treat the task like a scientific trial (Super Size Me, Super High Me), or manipulate the scenario for humorous purposes (20 Dates). My Stuff does neither. The only real comedic moment is a disjointed piece of slapstick where Luukkainen runs naked through snow. He then takes to the floor of an empty flat to lie unclothed – cold, bored, ignoring the camera crew in the room.

A revolving parade of visitors offer support and painfully wooden conversation – never acknowledging they're being filmed. The director's supposed poverty doesn't quite work out, as he's shown in restaurants consuming fancy meals and beers. He also works with electrical equipment during his day job, and has to assure viewers he won't use anything for recreational purposes. While I'd admittedly go crazy if I was to spend a day without even an alarm clock, I don't consider any of this to be a Sisyphean struggle – or even close to a 30-day diet of McDonald's.

After several months, the eureka moment still hasn't arrived. (A sensible person would give up after suffering for this long.) Instead, he's struck by loneliness and prioritises finding a girlfriend. My Stuff is that short on ideas. It's also staggering that any adult would need to spend six months in isolation before questioning the value in human companionship.

From what I saw, Luukkainen desires sympathy above anything else. One scene crassly focuses on him sat alone on the top deck of a bus, while a voiceover moans about being single. It's a static shot that could easily be taken from Garden State – which I definitely do not mean as compliment. At least his attempt to create a bittersweet Charlie Brown figure allows a jaunty jazz soundtrack throughout to provide some energy.

There's an intriguing idea somewhere concerned with the emotional attachment to possessions. Perhaps he should have permanently sold everything he owned, or tried homelessness. Or anything to produce something more profound than its repeated sentiment: "Your things aren't a measure of happiness." If that's the only takeaway after a year-long experiment, then time management should be a bigger concern. Without giving anything away, the ending is akin to taking a selfie at the worst moment of your life, and then uploading it to Facebook with an inspirational message attached. The film's purpose was obviously one of the first items to be discarded.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @halfacanyon

'My Stuff' is released in UK cinemas on 28 March. Other release dates TBC.

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