- Running time:
- 99 minutes
- Lena Dunham -
- Laurie Simmons -
- Grace Dunham -
- Rachel Howe -
- Merritt Wever -
Aspiring filmmaker Aura (Lena Dunham) heads home after college to live with her artist mom (Laurie Simmons) and brainy little sister (Grace Dunham) in their New York apartment. While she tries to figure out what to do with her life, Aura strikes up a friendly flirtation with fellow filmmaker Jed (Alex Karpovsky) but also finds herself attracted to a chef (David Call) at her new restaurant job.
The buzz: In addition to starring, Lena Dunham also wrote and directed this deeply personal film in which everything appears to be autobiographical (her real life mom and sister play her on screen mom and sister; their real life apartment is the film’s primary location; Dunham’s filmmaking ambitions are echoed by her character; etc.). It’s a revealing and far from flattering piece of self-examination, like a journal caught on camera. It also earned Dunham the top prize at this year’s South by Southwest film festival.
The verdict: Frumpy and not exactly trim or toned, Dunham abandons any pretense of glamour as she lays herself bare—figuratively through her character’s self-destructive, petulant behavior, and literally in numerous scenes of Aura lounging around in her underwear or less. “Tiny Furniture” would amount to nothing more than an empty exercise in narcissism—a cinematic case of oversharing—if not for Dunham’s specific comedic voice. But even that’s a mixed blessing. Her funky hipster intellectual vibe readily invites both scorn and admiration, she’s too ironic to be laugh-out-loud funny, and the insular world that shapes her sensibility feels terribly uninviting. At least the movie’s melancholy tone underscores how humor functions as both a coping and a defense mechanism for dealing with life. There’s also a mature wisdom to the way Aura’s relationship with her mother reveals that there’s nothing new, or even all that memorable, about twentysomething angst. These feelings existed before, and they’ll exist again. And sometimes, someone decides to make a movie about them.
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