Tiny Furniture

Tiny Furniture


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

While the mum of Tiny Furniture's central character Aura may use the phrase, "it's witty but it's kind of goofy" in disparaging terms, the same sentence could be used much more postively to describe the appeal of Lena Dunham's debut feature.

Goofiness becomes the saving grace of Aura (played by Dunham), in that despite her character's self-absorption, she is so disarmingly clueless about life and relationships that we can't help but will her to learn lessons and triumph over at least some of life's little annoyances. It is Dunham's fearlessness in showing Aura warts and all that becomes endearing; Dunham herself is some considerable way from Hollywood's idea of 'the body beautiful' but she uses her normality as an act of definace. And she bolsters the sense of semi-autobiography by casting her own mum, photographer Laurie Simmons, and sister, poet Grace Dunham, as versions of themselves in the film.

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Aura is anything but a glowing light. Newly graduated and unsure of the next step, she has retreated to her mum's Tribeca loft, where problems aren't so much overcome as put on hold till a later date - illustrated neatly by her decision to deal with her recently deceased hamster by sticking it in a ziplock bag and shoving it in the freezer.

Outside of her family, her only support network consists of a flaky best pal (Jemima Kirke, of whom, let's hope we see a lot more) and a YouTube video-maker love interest (Alex Karpovsky), who views her as nothing more than an easy meal ticket. There's also the pull of the sexy, but taken, chef (David Call) at her dead-end place of work - but when your desired destination is a mystery to you, how do you know which direction to head in?

This is less a film about plot-driven coming-of-age than about the subtle internal steps to adulthood we make alongside our more obvious, outward juvenile mistakes. The dialogue, like the characters, is deliberately spiky, exhibiting a waspish wit that keeps the laughs coming even when the acting from Simmons and Grace Dunham becomes rather too reminiscent of the furniture of the title. Dunham conveys the sense of admirable striving, in defiance of life in a mess - and she does so via bitter satire that has just enough sweetly goofy coating to make it charming without being annoying.

Reviewed on: 02 Apr 2012
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A recent graduate returning to her hometown struggles to find direction in a family where everybody else seems brilliantly talented.
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Director: Lena Dunham

Writer: Lena Dunham

Starring: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Alex Karpovsky, David Call

Year: 2010

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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