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SXSW 2021

Review: Fucking with Nobody


- Finnish filmmaker Hannaleena Hauru's self-conscious, self-referential second feature actually fucks with everybody, including itself

Review: Fucking with Nobody
l-r: Samuel Kujala, Hannaleena Hauru and Pietu Wikström in Fucking with Nobody

Talk about breaking the fourth wall. In her second, self-conscious, self-referential, tongue-firmly-in-cheek feature, Fucking with Nobody [+see also:
interview: Hannaleena Hauru
film profile
, Finnish writer-director-actress Hannaleena Hauru breaks at least five, making a film within an Instagram story within a film within a film... It has just had its North American premiere in SXSW's Global section.

Hanna (Hauru) is a filmmaker who has just lost out on a gig directing a feminist horror film to her male colleague Kristian (Jussi Lankoski), who is a former boyfriend and is now living with the screenwriter of this upcoming production, Shirley (Anna Kuusamo). As she complains about it to a bunch of friends, including another former boyfriend, cinematographer Lasse (co-writer Lasse Poser), and a gay couple of actors, Ekku (Samuel Kujala, who delivers the best performance in the film) and Ara (Pietu Wikström), over a night of heavy drinking, they laugh at Kristian and Shirley's romantic, heavily edited and clearly staged Instagram posts. A pair of uberfeminists among them, Viima (Sara Melleri) and Maria (Hanna-Kaisa Tiainen), come up with an idea for a subversive project that would draw attention to the fakery of social media and upend gender hierarchies: Hanna and Ekku will be posing as a couple in love on Instagram.

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After their first post, everybody is suddenly much nicer to Hanna, who had already been destined for the status of a spinster within the film industry. Now, even ice-cold producer Krista (Tanja Heinänen) with an apparently perfect life wants to hang out with her.

At one point, we realise we are actually watching a "making of" this exact film, as the protagonists step out of character. It's good that Hauru effectively stops with the matryoshka approach here, as this is where all of the conflicts in the story lead to. And these concern the perception of their dubious project, but also the fact that Ekku and Hanna seem to be getting too serious about it... Maybe even actually falling in love, much to the chagrin of Ara and Lasse.

The film makes fun of feminism, progressiveness and political correctness even more than it does of social tropes now considered regressive, led by gender and sex roles and hierarchies. At one point, Hanna laments the lack of simplicity found in the old social structures, wondering why she can't just be a "1950s bimbo".

Taking the premise as far as it can go, the filmmakers splash out on various techniques: digital video, Instagram posts and emojis, faked Super 8, drone shots, staged photographs and probably others – in this formal whirlwind of a movie, it's not easy to catch every detail. The music, of which there is a lot, is always used ironically, whether it's a jazz drum solo or a stoner metal drone.

Despite the complex set-up, the approach is quite broad, very much in the tradition of Nordic comedy: sperm, urine, vomit, a mud fight and even a slow-motion rain of excrement in a fantasy scene in a Berlin S&M club are all in there. But the film also has more subtle touches, and even comes close to being genuinely emotional – a testament to the well-built characters that we can relate to, despite the perceived construction of the whole thing.

At the end, Hauru and Poser use this to create another matryoshka level that can also serve as an alibi, as they proclaim that their film does not work. Fucking with Nobody actually fucks with everybody, including itself, and if this extreme irony protects it from being taken too seriously, it also prevents it from being taken seriously enough.

Fucking with Nobody was produced by Finland's Aamu Film Company, and France's Totem Films has the international rights.

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