Tiny Furniture: Film Review
May 31, 2012
By: Lois Cornell
Aura would like you to know that she is having a very, very hard time. She arrives home from Ohio, where she studied at art college, her belongings in sad-looking carrier bags, her rat in a jar, with an overwhelming sense of ‘post-grad delirium’. Her hippy boyfriend left in search of his destiny (‘something about having to build a shrine for his ancestors out of a dying tree’) so she finds a crappy job, bickers with her overachieving sister, and carefully mulls over her own identity.
Lena Dunham (writer, director and Aura) manages to maintain visual interest without being aggressively arty and makes fun of people who are insincere, men who are casually horrible, and the way YouTube makes people famous ‘in an internet kind of way’. The dialogue is honest, unnervingly so, but I can’t help feeling that her men are a bit too nasty. No one actually behaves like this, I think, as one she barely knows announces ‘I’m a man, in the house – that’s invaluable’ from her mother’s bed, his chest hair dangerously at odds with the White Company décor, Woody Allen book in hand, snatched from her mother’s bookshelf.
Tiny Furniture is, Dunham admits, mostly autobiographical and you begin to think making it became a prism for self-reflection, a cathartic episode. Her mother (Laurie Simmons) and sister (Grace Dunham) are her real relatives and the apartment is her mum’s New York hang-out, where she really does make excruciatingly self-conscious photography from tiny furniture. So it’s as awkward as it is alluring, easy to see how it’s studied mumble-core won SXSW’s narrative feature prize, and won over HBO for a Dunham-penned series Girls, but some of that vapidity is so spot on, I’m left wondering how empty it’ll leave me.
Tiny Furniture is showing at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Tue 29 to Thu 31 May – 6.30pm