Directed by James Browning
Starring Stephen Chance, Sidney Keane, Helena Misciosia
Short Film Review by Evie Brudenall
Have you ever wondered what compels people to hoard their belongings? Director James Browning and the team behind Clutter attempt to shine a light on such a question.
Nigel (Stephen Chance) is a hermit who spends most of his day sitting amongst the clutter that litters his house, only venturing outside to buy some plastic Tupperware from the market. He’s in trouble with debt collectors and refuses to accept help from his concerned friends and neighbours – can anyone get through to him?
The character of Nigel is developed no further beyond that of a stereotypical introvert as his social skills leave little to be desired and he rarely leaves the safety, and mess, of his own home. However, he is laced with some contradictions as his smart attire and conscientious nature to take plastic bags with him to do his shopping suggest an organised and self-possessed man – but the carnage of clutter that lies behind his front door paints a different picture altogether. The debt collectors who pay Nigel a visit also don’t escape the archetypal treatment; they’re aggressive and rough around the edges without an ounce of sympathy, whose seemingly only purpose is to rouse compassion from the audience for Nigel.
Nigel’s trips to the market to purchase containers are an important plot device and acts as a way to cement the fact that Nigel has people in his life who care about him in the form of the Market Trader (Sidney Keane). He adds the containers to his impressively large collection but the reason behind the project remains ambiguous and this unfortunately is the case until the very end of the film, despite its best efforts to deliver a satisfying conclusion. The film’s focal point of Nigel being a hoarder is equally as underdeveloped; we have no idea whether Nigel has an attachment to any of his possessions and as a result, it stunts his growth as a character.
Clutter does succeed with its direction by James Browning who coerces natural performances from his actors, particularly Stephen Chance who delivers great empathy with his social ineptness and tendency to avoid his problems rather than confront them. Brown also tries to maximise his limited number of locations by filming them in a very singular and unique fashion – canted angles and jaunty close-ups help to make Clutter feel big in the face of its small scale.
Although the premise has a lot of promise that Clutter cannot achieve, it is supported by strong performances and an ambitious approach to filming the story.