City Paper is not for tourists
Here’s a tiny review of Tiny Furniture: Irritating. Unoriginal. And lacking any semblance of genuine human behavior.
You want me to go on?
Tiny Furniture is a puzzling indie darling, the mumblecore creation of 24-year-old Lena Dunham, its writer/director/star. Dunham hasn’t employed a whole lot of resources—or imagination—for her story of Aura, a recent college graduate who just doesn’t know what to do with herself. She shot the film in her mother’s Manhattan loft, using her actual mother and sister (Laurie Simmons and Grace Dunham) to play her fake mother and sister. She even steals Mom’s profession (photographer of dolls, and their requisite scaled furnishings). And Aura wants to be a filmmaker! Instead she just tools around TriBeCa, working a job she hates, hanging out with grating people, and going to art openings. It’s Greenberg all over again.
At least Greenberg was clearer on who was meant to get under your skin and who you were supposed to cheer for. With the exception of Aura’s younger sister Nadine (why even change names?), who’s allowed to be a brat here because so many teenage girls are, these characters aren’t even believable in their jackassery. Aura’s mother is prickly from the start, bitching about random things (Aura ate one of her frozen dinners!) and showing not an ounce of maternal affection toward her blah-but-admittedly-nice daughter. (Not to mention that Simmons and Grace Dunham are far from natural actors.) Aura’s alleged love interest (Alex Karpovsky), who’s “kind of a big deal on YouTube,” happily crashes at mom’s studio when she and Nadine are away, never displaying any charm nor interest in Aura beyond friendship—and actually complaining when she tells him he has to find another place because her family’s returning. And Aura’s best friend, Charlotte (Jemima Kirke, the only watchable actor in this mess), swings between bitchy-fabulous and just plain bitchy, having decided that everyone and everything except her and her interests are stupid.
Aura herself is innocuous at first, but as she breezes from day to day yet eventually whines to Mom, “I’m a young, young person who’s trying very hard!” you want to smack her. Dunham has one plus going here, and that’s featuring her neither model-beautiful nor -thin self as the lead, largely makeup-free and unafraid of showing some thick thighs and imperfect breasts as she walks around in various states of undress. But it’s not enough to make Tiny Furniture worthwhile.