My Stuff (Tavarataivas)

UK Release Date 28th March 2014
Director Petri Luukkainen
Starring Petri Luukkainen's stuff
Runtime 80 Minutes
Certificate 15
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 31st March 2014

What do you actually need to get through your day? No, not what do you think you need, what do you actually need? This is the premise of Finnish documentary maker Petri Luukkainen’s new movie, My Stuff (Tavarataivas). After getting dumped by his girlfriend, photographer Luukkainen decides that he needs a change. And clearly not one for small measures, he decides to completely empty his apartment, including the clothes on his back and decant the lot to a storage facility. He then sets the following rules for his movie:

1 - One year experiment 

2 - All stuff into a storage 

3 - One item back per day 

4 - Don't buy any stuff.

Luukkainen allows himself to return to the storage unit every day to collect one item that he most needs to function. It’s not made clear but it’s probably safe to assume he excluded his apartment key from the rules. Given that this is Finland, he starts with a coat, heads on to shoes and takes it from there.

What sounds like an interesting experiment doesn’t really translate into a fascinating film, though there are times when this is relatively interesting, notably when Luukkainen discusses his experiment with his grandma and younger relatives. The problem is, he spends less time discussing it with them and more time staring out of his apartment window. Part of this isn’t really Luukkainen’s fault though as the conclusion is relatively obvious from the start, or at least it was for me. Once he gets over the first one hundred items, his life is more or less back to normal and the remaining 265 are of much less interest.

As the items become more numerous, the movie moves away from the original aim and more towards Luukkainen as a person as he picks his life back up. If there is any connection with his new life and his experiment it’s not particularly obvious from the movie though. He meets a girl online, they seem to hit it off and the only noticeable impact on this is that he has to borrow a bike from his parents when his is stolen (as he is forbidden from buying a new one) and he has to steal other people’s wifi in order to get online in the first place. The latter point brings about its own problems with the experiment in that Luukkainen of course can’t do everything he is doing with just the objects he has, he must lean on his friends to assist him. Which kind of comes across as cheating in my eyes. His brother delivers him food while he has no clothes and presumably no money and his friends variously cart him about, do his laundry and film the documentary.

So what has Luukkainen proved? Well, we don’t need all the stuff we collect around us and not much makes any difference if you don’t have anyone to share your life with. Not exactly groundbreaking. On the plus side though, his grandma is utterly charming and the younger relative who dispenses advice far beyond his years is also great value. Luukkainen himself comes across as mildly self-obsessed, which I guess is almost a precondition for this kind of movie. My Stuff is not a disaster by any means, if you catch it on TV, it’s worth sticking around for, but it's nowhere near as fascinating as the premise suggests.

 

Check out the trailer here.

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