by Ayeen Forootan Film Streaming Scene

Fucking with Nobody | Hannaleena Hauru

Credit: Emilia Haukka © Aamu Film Company

Fucking with Nobody is a radical, playful bit of meta-comedy that executes its risky conceit with aplomb.


For her sophomore feature, Fucking with Nobody, Finnish director Hannaleena Hauru opts to play an on-screen alter-ego of herself. Hanna is a filmmaker who, after losing a project to her nemesis Kristian, gets involved in a fake Instagram catfishing scheme with a group of her intellectual friends, collaborators, and family members — most notably, her real-life partner and co-writer Lasse Poser, who here plays the jealous director of the film-within-the-film. Both idea and the intent are loud and clear: namely, to question, examine, and perhaps even eliminate the traditional power structures in relationships, and to find out how contemporary society reacts to romantic meta-narratives in the cyberspace era and how one’s desire can become unquenchable when consuming the details of a public persona’s private life. Here, Hanna pretends to be in an amorous relationship with her gay actor friend, Ekku, the duo constantly posting provocative pictures and sentimental videos of themselves on social media. This concept allows Hauru to craft a satirical, oddball rom-com from the material, the aesthetics gradually becoming nothing less than a never-ending mise en abyme, and the complex narrative functions almost like a matryoshka doll. Expectedly, as the insane gambit progresses, things begin to go more and more out of control, the on-screen crew losing handle of the project. And in this, Hauru is able to embrace the escalating auto-fictional aspects of her personal and professional life and shatter the boundaries between constructed fiction and real-life documentary. And as everyone in this uncanny screwball falls into a web of roleplaying, Fucking with Nobody asserts some profound questions about the relationship between the real and the unreal, and to what degree such an extreme simulacra can substitute for truth.

 Probably more reminiscent of subversive counterculture films of the 1960s than anything else, Hauru utilizes a free-flowing handheld camera, haptically capturing the actors’ bodies, to craft a witty — and frequently discomforting — anarchic romp. Interspersed are personal memories and erotic fantasies that enable viewers to explore the notion of one’s identity among a chaotic array of images, and the film’s sonic flourishes likewise encourage such considerations: Hauru frequently adds a typewriter sound effect to scenes to remind of the film’s meta-ness, while elsewhere she uses rimshots to intensify its parodic mood. Most impressive, though, is that she succeeds at striking a delicate balance between the film’s tender, sensory texture and its bold conceptual mechanisms. It results in an organic equilibrium that lends a spontaneous, even improvised feel that is essential for a film of this sort to work. But while this all works well, Fucking with Nobody’s Achilles’ heel is that it reveals most of its ideas — of sexual insecurity, emotional maturity, the apparatuses of the current film industry — and visual gimmicks so early that it can begin to feel repetitive as it chugs along, even if remaining largely interesting. But, as the film’s last line vividly declares, “This isn’t sex [comedy]. This is a manifesto.” Indeed it is, and one which is willing to fuck with anyone and everyone in both radical and playful ways.

You can stream Hannaleena Hauru’s Fucking with Nobody on Mubi beginning on September 9.


Originally published as part of SXSW Film Festival 2021 — Dispatch 4.

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