Self(less) Portrait Danic Champoux

Self(less) Portrait Danic Champoux
It's an idea that might be mistaken for audacious if it weren't easier to peg as unimaginative instead. In the documentary Self(less) Portrait, director Danic Champoux sits 50 people down in front of the camera and has them talk about their lives. The result is predictably uneven and muddled, drawing parallels in the experiences of those interviewed to underscore a fairly obvious message about how we are all bound by the same underlying desires.

Champoux doesn't distinguish himself here much as an interviewer or stylist. He rarely attempts to probe his subjects too deeply, except to inquire if they have ever fantasized about murder on a couple of occasions and to ask one poor kid about the latest dance styles in an interminable exchange. The presentation of the interviews is bland and sterile, with the few attempts at playing around with shadows coming across more distracting than anything else.

Yet the personalities emerge almost in spite of all of this, weaving tales of heartbreak and loss that mingle with ones of love and acceptance. These include an Internet addict whose suicide attempt has facilitated a temporary respite from his oppressive partner, a wrestler who finds meaning in the connection with his fans and a man who was barred from his grandfather's funeral because of his face tattoo.

Some share accounts of how having children changed their life while others offer traumatic memories of how being abused as a child scarred them for the rest of theirs. But just because we all have stories doesn't mean they're all necessarily worth committing to film.

Self(less) Portrait by Danic Champoux, National Film Board of Canada (NFB)