Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Movie Tip: Tavarataivas / My Stuff

"Minimalism" is one of those hot topics at the moment. A hip trend for some, a permanent lifestyle for others. There are countless blogs, books and documentary films on this topic. 

For professional reasons as well as out of private interest, I have dealt a little with this topic and reviewed, amongst others, the pink "decluttering bible" by Japanese Marie Kondo for "Utropia" [Since "Utropia", Northern Norway's biggest student magazine at that time, was carried to the grave altogether in February 2017, the online version of the corresponding print article cannot be linked anymore.]. 

When it comes to documentary films on this topic, Petri Luukkainen's "Tavarataivas" is by far the best one I've seen so far. 

In the middle of an existential crisis, the director and protagonist Petri Luukkainen decides to conduct a yearlong experiment: He rents a storage room, places all his belongings in there and is allowed to bring only one item per day back into his now empty apartment. Along the way, he tries to figure out what really matters in (his) life. 

"Tavarataivas" forgoes moral judgement. It's just an experiment. Refreshing, entertaining and humorous at the same time. And when the protagonist reflects or even philosophises during the experiment, you can do so for yourself at the same time. 

One nice dialogue in the movie, between Petri and his friend Eero, goes like this... 

Petri: "Then you'll buy your first bachelor's stuff. Then you get a girlfriend, and have to give it all up - when she wants something purple or more stylish, and so on. And now you have to get rid of this stuff, since you will have a kid. The grand finale is when your kids get into their teens. Finally you get a divorce. You'll get thrown out and everything starts from the beginning." 

Eero: "Right, the stages of life. That's how it goes." 


As a documentary film from Finland, "Tavarataivas" takes on a Finnish perspective, of course. As a person living in Finland, I appreciate this aspect very much. I have read some books and watched some documentary films on minimalism and consumer criticism, from different countries, and I often found the American perspective in particular rather strange. For instance while reading the book by an American couple without children who wanted to cut down in consumption for one year but drove three different cars and had two residences. In case of Petri Luukkainen, things are more down-to-earth. 

From a very subjective point of view, I probably like "Tavarataivas" also so much because the protagonist obviously lives in the same neighbourhood as I did a few years ago, namely in Helsinki-Vallila. He may even live in the same street (In the movie, he runs naked past my former apartment...). When I myself lived in Helsinki-Vallila, one of my dearest friends visited me and used the term "minimalism" in connection with my 17-square-metre studio apartment. Before that, I had never heard of this living concept. Just recently, the very same friend visited me in my current apartment in Turku, and we reminisced about my former home in Helsinki-Vallila. "The ideal of an apartment", as we both agree. 

"Tavarataivas" debuted in Finnish cinemas in 2013, was on screen also internationally under the title "My Stuff" and is meanwhile available on DVD. And consistent with the topic of the movie, the DVD comes in a slim DVD case. 

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