Sunday 1 April 2012

Tiny Furniture Review

Lena Dunham is only 25 and she has written, directed and acted in a long list of films and TV series, not to say the three projects currently in the pipeline: a TV series, Girls, green lit by HBO last year, written and directed by her, in which she also plays the main character; and acting in This is 40, and Supporting Characters. Lena graduated from Oberlin College in 2008, where she studied Creative Writing, and her first feature, Creative Nonfiction, already premiered at the South-by-Southwest in 2009.

Tiny Furniture is very much an auto-biographical picture of Dunham, with Aura (the main character played by Dunham) returning home after graduating from film school and finding herself in that je-ne-sais-quoi point in her life, trying to figure out what to do with herself and her career. Having said that, I believe Dunham in real life was probably much clearer about her desires and aspirations when she got back from uni, as her first short film, Dealing, had already premiered at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival.  Even Aura’s mother, Siri, and sister, Nadine, are played by Dunham’s real mother (Laurie Simmons) and sister (Grace Dunham), having both references to their real lives - her mother, Siri, is a renowned photographer of tiny furniture, as she is also in real life, but not specially of tiny furniture – and the feature was filmed in her own flat in Tribeca. Even the neighbours in the film are her neighbours in real life.
The film takes place in the subsequent days after Aura comes back from university and showcases the comings and goings of various people and events in Aura’s life, her first job at a restaurant, from which she ends up quitting; a couple of parties, one of which is hosted by her under-aged sister;  two guys, the arty-reading-a-Woody-Allen-book type, Jed, played by Alex Karpovsky, who in turn is a ‘hit on You Tube’ for reciting Nietzsche sitting on a pony, with which she has a platonic relationship, and the hot Italian chef but not so intellectual guy Keith (David Call), with who she ends up shagging in a pipe in the middle of the street… which turn out to be both meaningless experiences and at the same time meaningful for its emptiness, senseless of direction , emphasizing the sentiment of this day and age. 

As a constant in Aura’s post-graduate experiences is her friend Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), an out spoken English twenty-something, who accompanies her through the ins and outs of her eventful encounters. After all her failed – and some not so failed – experiences, she goes back home where, finally, mother and daughter find that special place where they reconnect, with mum letting her sleep in her bed – as Aura says ‘you have to invite me in, like the vampires’. All in all, Aura depicts the Cinderella of our times, trying to find love and meaning in life - but without the rags and drags - and Sex and the City, but with the cynicism of Woody Allen.
An existential comedy, Tiny Furniture has very cunning dialogues and satire, and I admire Dunham for being able to expose herself to such a degree, by spitting out the unspoken truths about her generation like a punch in the face, for disclosing her fears and desires, for making ridicule of her own situation – and she does that by exhibiting the most mundane things within the life of any twenty-something and making them the centre of her storytelling tale in a witty, comic and gracious way.  

Tiny Furniture is out in the UK and Ireland on 30th March 2012.

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