Imagine clearing your flat, locking up all your things – from your most prized possessions down to your most mundane thingamabobs – in a storage somewhere and you’re only allowed to retrieve one item per day over the course of a year. This is the self-inflicted predicament that first time Finnish documentarian Petri Luukkainen got himself into, after realising that happiness in life doesn’t equate to material acquisitions. His project is made all the more challenging since he lives in Helsinki, which, for anyone aware with the geographical whereabouts of Finland’s capital, is fucking freezing. So, cue Luukkainen sprinting through snow-flaked streets stark naked at Day One (or night, rather) to recoup his most immediate necessity – a warm, winter coat. This is how My Stuff progress throughout – with the self-appointed protagonist trying to determine over the next 365 days the most important commodities that would help him survive as a regular human being.
There is so much narcissism in this undertaking that it’s sometimes difficult to figure out who Luukkainen is serving other than his own existence. When other documentaries out there are hellbent in exposing Earth’s systemic corruption, mankind’s nihilistic destruction or the greed that will plunge us all into total despair, here’s this Finnish guy trying to figure out which is more necessary – a pair of sucks, fresh underpants or a toothbrush? The indulgence here is inescapable, but at least Luukkainen tries his best to give us a genuine contemplation about our society’s ingrained materialism by using himself as a lab rat. He stares far too much into the distance or empty space, but when he tries to single out the important things in his life, we can’t help but also consider ourselves in the compelling situation – what makes us really happy? “You’d have to find that somewhere else,” his frail grandmother advises. It’s no fresh insight – but this doc is admirable for its anti-consumerist intent. Through Luukkainen’s journey, we are forced to reconsider our own living. That happiness does not come from excess, but rather in the simplest pleasures that life can give.