Starring: Lena Dunham
Directed by: Lena Dunham
3 out of 5
Tiny Furniture is either a film you’ll love or loath. Written and directed by Lena Dunham, who also resides as Aura, the lead, Tiny Furniture is a substantial, if not slightly green accomplishment for a number of points. Firstly – with a budget of $50,000 – it establishes that a minimal budget, and a sparse crew, can amount to something equally poignant and irritating.
The film tells the story of a young woman returning to her mother’s posh, artisan abode in New York amidst heartbreak and college graduation.
The film leads us through an unspecified amount of weeks, dissecting Aura’s day-to-day melodramas as a twenty something filmmaker who specializes in YouTube videos. Be it motherly miss-communication, pompous boyfriends, acerbic sibling spats, banal jobs and a demeaning construction-site tryst – Aura’s self entitlement, allotted from an affluent upbringing and supposed Internet celebrity, can get a bit aggravating. On the other hand, it’s also unflinching.
Aesthetically presented as a strange case of ‘mumblecore’ grown up, the overall result is a fine outing for a first timer. Channeling Woody Allen in his most uncertain, early stages – the film nevertheless avoids it beginner’s hiccups, going on to brim with ironic humor and pathos.
Clinically photographed with a Canon Digital SLR, the cast – both amateur and professional – give assured performances of metropolitan cool and leisure. Out of all of them, it is Jemima Kirke who shines the brightest, stealing film as Aura’s hipster friend Charlotte. I can’t wait to she what she does next.
Special Features: Tiny Furniture has joined The Criterion Collection at #597, surprisingly packaged as a two-disc purchase. Special features include a conversation between esteemed writer/director Nora Ephron and Lena Dunham, an interview with filmmaker Paul Schrader (discussing his rather insightful thoughts as to why the film is special), four short films from Lena’s film student past, a trailer, and a written essay by film scholar Phillip Lopate.
Overall: A highlight at 2010’s SXSW festival, Tiny Furniture is commendable as a slice of life indie. While only 98 minutes long, it drags, it doesn’t say a whole lot, but it also conveys a keen sense of wit and tone that can’t be denied. Although this is certainly not for everyone, it will interest those looking for the offbeat, or for those who like awkward truths of modern post grad angst.
Rent or Buy: Rent