My Stuff (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 80 mins

Intriguing, thought-provoking and surprisingly moving “self-experiment” Finnish documentary with a fascinating central premise, an appealingly introspective subject and striking camerawork.

What's it all about?
My Stuff (or Tavarataivas, original title fans) opens with twenty-something Finnish director Petri Luukkainen running naked down a snowy street in Helsinki. Then he introduces himself via voiceover and explains the film's intriguing set-up: having realised that the sheer amount of consumer goods in his life was making him depressed, he decides to lock every single one of his possessions away in storage and restricts himself to retrieving just one item a day for a year. (Needless to say, his first item is a long winter coat).

Other restrictions are also in place (e.g. he decides he won't buy any new consumer goods as opposed to essentials like food and heating), but the ultimate goal (in a sort of offbeat self-help way) is that he hopes to discover which things he needs as opposed to the things he wants, and maybe learn something about himself in the process.

The Good
Needless to say, the film doesn't play out quite the way you expect; for example, once Petri retrieves his first essential seven items (basically a coat, a mattress, a duvet cover, trousers, shoes – he figures he can go back to work as no-one will know he doesn't have pants or socks on), he realises he has everything he needs for a while so doesn't go to the facility for ten days (whereupon he gets another ten items at once).

In addition, his life changes when he meets a girl (and wisely decides not to tell her about the film in the early stages), which ultimately leads him to the predictable, but no less moving realisation that “all you need is love.” (Amusingly, his young nephew nails his predicament almost immediately, asking “Do you have a girlfriend yet? No? Then that's what's missing in your life ...”)

The Great
Luukainen comes across as a sort of Finnish version of Morgan Spurlock (only a little bit more prone to introspection and depression) and the film very much follows the “self-experiment” structure established by Spurlock's Supersize Me. Though the ultimate conclusion is a little too predictable, there are several moving moments along the way (particularly Luukainen's relationship with his straight-talking grandmother) and it's impossible to watch the film without asking yourself which order you would retrieve your own items in, given the same situation.

The film is also drily funny throughout, finding humour in unexpected situations, such as Luukainen's mother popping round for a visit and collapsing with infectious laughter at his terrible moustache or Petri's ecstatic reaction the first time he spends a night on a mattress.

Worth seeing?
My Stuff is an engaging and entertaining documentary that offers intriguing and thoughtful comments on consumer culture. Recommended.

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Content updated: 21/10/2017 22:26

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