Thomas Haemmerli is a Swiss journalist dedicated to recording his life. On the eve of his fortieth birthday, he found out that his mother was dead. As he does with any life experience, he undertakes the task of recording the situation; however, the death isn't housed in normal circumstances. His mother was a "Messie" -- or pack-rat -- living in an apartment with memories and junk piled from floor to ceiling. To make the situation even more trying, she died alone, and was found after her body had begun to decompose. Just as he's poised to ring in four decades, he must deal with the death of his mother, clean up the shocking bits of her shell that remain and clear out dumpsters full of junk -- hence, Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse.
To deal with such a harrowing experience, Haemmerli and his brother turn to humor. Frankly, what else could they do? They talk of the smells of decomposition lingering well after the remains are cleaned up – it invades their noses, their minds and their clothes. Yet they have to move forward through the "universe of innumerous objects." The documentary is shocking and dark, but it works because of Thomas' blunt honesty. He doesn't mask the troubling aspects of his life, and he weaves piles of DV footage of the clean-up with home films, pictures and revealing voice-overs. The filmmaker might say that he detests self-help filmmaking, but the story is as much the document of one woman's life as it is about two sons trying to understand their mother.