Losing It

John Webster

Finland, 1998, 90 / 52 min.

After a few washes, missing socks is a common incident for most of us, but at the same time it is irrelevant and not worthy of any particular scrutiny. John Webster, however, is determinedly convinced of the importance of shedding light on this enigma, and “Losing” it not only engages the viewer to participate in an investigation of missing socks. The film also successfully combines the strategy applied to the investigation as a way of revealing the cause and effect that underlies the workings of the European Union – which for a detached spectator can seem entangled and abstract.

John Webster

Starting and ending in Finland, the investigation takes us en route through the corridors of the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg respectively, presenting us with many peculiar situations and activities in or outside the European Parliament. The person selected as the subject of the investigation is Pertti Paasio, a recently-elected Finnish representative to the European Parliament. Equipped with radio receivers in the socks, Perrti Paasio heads for Brussels and finds out that he has been commissioned, among other duties, to accomplish the correct construction of a Finnish sauna in the new Parliament building in Strasbourg.

The reactions from the people John Webster meets while searching for the missing sock are interesting to observe. More than anything, the reactions reveal different attitudes to the European Union that bring much-needed perspectives to our attitudes on the European Union. By moving beyond the surface of a world of suits and heaps of paper, this reflective documentary is a colourful pleasure to watch. It is a narrative combined with archive film material, voice-overs, happy-go-lucky muzak, directives transformed into kaleidoscopic vignettes and ditto sound, together with more traditional interactions with the characters getting involved in the film. The result is a critical but human portrayal of an institution that, without advocating or opposing the European Union, concerns all of us.

By the end of the film the viewer does not get an answer to the destiny of the missing socks, however he/she has a better understanding of the results of a investigation when units of measures have not yet been harmonised in the European market. John Webster unfortunately loses track of the film’s subject as it indecisively and excessively dwells on Perrti Paasio, and is therefore incapable of holding the viewer’s attention in a manner that this film actually deserves.