Movie review: ‘Tiny Furniture,’ tiny story, big talent
With a title this precious, it’s no surprise that “Tiny Furniture” is the work of a highly precocious, painfully self-aware, nakedly self-referential young Manhattan (Tribeca, to be exact) filmmaker who has turned out a sophomore feature film that’s decidedly a homemade family affair.
Writer-director-star Lena Dunham (2009’s “Creative Nonfiction”) was a 23-year-old recent college grad when she shot this micro-budget movie about an aspiring filmmaker and recent college grad trying to find her direction in life. Like so many works by newly minted film-school alumnae, Dunham’s efforts so far possesses the narrow focus of someone who views all of life through the prism of films and filmmaking.
So, not surprisingly, her character Aura is an wannabe moviemaker with a dubious degree in film theory and a couple of middling videos popping up on YouTube. She’s just returned home to her mother’s blinding white Tribeca loft from an Ohio college (Dunham graduated from Oberlin) to find her place in the real world.
And it’s not surprising that Dunham shot the film in her family’s actual downtown loft, that she cast her real sister (Grace Dunham) to play her bratty, high-schooler sister Nadine, her real-life artist mother (sculptor Laurie Simmons) to portray her screen mom Siri, and her real-life best friend (a very wry Jemima Kirke) as her fictional wild-child BFF Charlotte.
It’s all very New York-centric (in the way of Nicole Holofcener or the early Woody Allen), and its scrappy, barebones aesthetic makes it feel like a post-mumblecore bridge between student filmdom and real commercial movies. This one was made for less than $50,000 and has ridden along on a buzz generated at Austin’s SXSW film fest.
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