So the movers have finally arrived with Tiny Furniture, a film which got its premiere over 2 years ago at South by Southwest.
It tells the story of Aura, played by Lena Dunham who also wrote and directed the piece, as she returns home to New York having recently graduated from college. Here she is holed up with her child prodigy little sister and artistic mother who has made her name taking photos of miniature furniture.
She tries over the summer to figure out just what it is she wants to do having left the safe and secure campus life to be thrown head first into recession hit America. To help her on her quest is a long forgotten best friend Charlotte (Jemima Kirke) and the affections of the chef where she works as a hostess. It’s not so much a coming of age movie more so “I’ve come of age so what the hell do I do now?”.
It’s an impressive outing from the young director, well shot, paced and with some memorable dialogue. Dunham doesn’t shy away from the camera and has no difficulty in showing herself in a less than favourable and ungraceful light which is refreshing and endearing. The manner in which she portrays the relationships between sisters and mothers is well fleshed out making their exchanges all the more engaging. She seems very self-aware which comes across in the dialogue, surely she knows how ridiculous her outbursts are and more akin to the tantrums of a 16-year-old, not someone in their early twenties.
The problem of the recession is touched on, but balanced well by the insights of her mother who remarks to Charlotte if she has the same sense of entitlement as her daughter. You feel Dunham is trying to grapple with this herself, having been promised the world and living in the bubble of college it scares her to the core to be faced with reality.
The stand-out performance has to be Charlotte, she reminded me of a female Withnail with her “couldn’t give a shit” attitude, say anything and leave everyone in her wake. She’s the type everyone wishes they had the balls to be but because they can’t, “Charlottes” are ostracised and kept at a distance as they remind us of our timidness and unwillingness to rock the boat. She has her own frailties and neurosis, but she doesn’t suffer fools and is much more perceptive of people using her friend Aura’s goodwill.
At times the film is frustrating as you just want to shake Aura and tell her to cop on and buckle down, but this just highlights the great job Dunham has done in giving us a realistic character who we all identify with in some way. The film does feel patchy at times and clunky and I could well understand it being more frustrating to certain audiences, but to me it’s an interesting honest look at a women trying to find her way in the world.
USA / Directed By: Lena Dunham / Written By: Lena Dunham / Starring: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Jemima Kirke / 98min / Comedy, Drama / Release: 30 March 2012 (Irl/UK), 12 November 2010 (US/Canada)