What is supposed to happen after graduating from university? Many are told a job awaits in their field of study or perhaps some travelling before settling down for a career. But what really happens is nothing. Tiny Furniture embarks on a journey with its young professional audiences to find the answer to questions reserved for the catacombs of the mind: When am I an adult?
Armed with a university degree and nearly 400 hits on her YouTube page, Aura (Lena Dunham) sceptically walks back into her childhood home as well as the childish habits she thought a university could wash away. With the hope of delaying the passage of time and the responsibility it brings Aura explores a new life revisiting old memories. Sharing the space with her mother (Laurie Simmons) — a well- respected artist — and sister (Grace Dunham) — the recent recipient of the nations highest prize in student poetry — leads to intense bickering and shows one of the clear negatives of having to return home. Aura’s mother (Laurie Simmons) actually makes the decree Aura may not enter her room unless she is home because, “I have to invite you into my space.”
Aura quickly finds work as a day hostess at a restaurant that isn’t open until the evening. Her film theory degree has earned her the position of answering a phone. Though life appears to have stagnated Aura is still a young woman and New York City offers an abundance of available young men. With the help of her old friend Charlotte (Jemima Kirke) Aura attempts to find herself under the bring lights of the city. This is a story long told before yet newly explored for changing generation.
Lena Dunham may not be a familiar name at the moment but you can expect in the next few years you’ll be hearing her name more and more. The 26 year-old triple threat — director/writer/actress — has only just begun to shine, seen by the current success of her HBO show Girls, produced by Judd Apatow — which she also writes, acts and occasionally directs.
Tiny Furniture is told in a sort of vignette-style with different scenes adding a little more depth to a character without having any conclusion within a scene. Often times these characters talk to one another but no one listens. Aura’s mother — played by Dunham’s actually mother — sleepily asks Aura to remove a noisy clock from her room after Aura asks to sleep with her, with the obvious notion of simply removing Aura from her room. Charlotte responds in the same way after being asked to help calm down an underage-drinking party only to start giving out lap-dances.
The honesty of this film comes from its real-life honesty. Dunham uses her own mother, sister and best friend in the film so the chemistry didn’t have to be created. Many of the scenes were actually done in just one take. Often times longer encounters play out right on the screen in real time adding to some cringe-worthy moments of ill-conceived logic. A mother/daughter argument devolves into Aura throwing a temper-tantrum and flailing around like child in need of a nap.
The questions of what happens next and when maturation into adulthood is complete are never really answered. A white wall of cabinets lingers before Aura responding to her blank stare with a reflection. When she asks her mother where things are in the home she’s always told in the white cabinet. This is really the symbol of this film. A degree no longer means what it used to and expectations are doomed to end in disappointment for many. Just because you spent four years learning about one thing does not guarantee you’ll be asked to work in the field. The white cabinets house what it is Aura is looking for and while others may know exactly where to look she must take the time to open each and every one.
Tiny Furniture UK Trailer Published via LongTail.tv
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