Quickcard Review Tiny Furniture
Directed by: Lena Dunham Cast: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Alex Karpovsky Running Time: 1 hr 38 mins Rating: NR Release Date: December 10, 2010 (Chicago)
PLOT: Aura (Dunham) is a young woman who returns home from college and doesn't know what to do next.
WHO'S IT FOR? A movie like Tiny Furniture may appeal best to the younger crowd (18-30, perhaps), especially those who can more immediately relate to the mindset and feelings of Dunham's character.
Lena Dunham is a hipster’s Nia Vardalos, without the comic potential. Dunham has the same openness with the audience when it comes to her insecurities, and has no issues in putting things out there for us all to see (she can be seen mostly naked in one scene, to make her emotions all the more literal). There is however, an issue. Her story hardly moves. She, along with her characters, floats around a vacuous Tribeca setting, as if time had stopped completely.
Tiny Furniture is the work of a filmmaker who needs to get a few things off of her chest, regardless of whether she makes us care about such events or not. The movie vents about factors in modern young adult life that we already know – yes, even intellectual hipster guys are King Sh*theads - and the movie relies too much on Dunham’s sometimes too vanilla character to keep things in motion. Her artist of a single mother is a wholly more thoughtful and curious creature, and her character is mostly mentioned whenever Aura reads her journal entries.
Written and directed by Dunham, the whimpering organisms of Tiny Furniture speak in single sentences, with some interactions feeling more forced than others. Especially when Dunham is on-screen, a few moments call for a re-write, or even just a re-shoot. Dunham is too delicate playing the girl who is trying not to offend anyone, or even the type of girl that guy’s only want to be friends with. Though she’s at the center of Tiny Furniture, at times she’s without any cinematic gravitas, with an exception of her ordinary, this-is-who-I-am presence. Still, you have to appreciate someone so apparently insecure for trying out the concept of security, and in public nonetheless.
Tiny Furniture’s most unique attribute is its cinematography, which still isn’t perfect. Mostly wall-to-wall with carefully framed shots, the film looks strikingly better than most other independent movies with the same budget. The technique of framing a character in 1/3 of screen while talking backfires when the editing makes a conversation feel visually unnatural, but this is only in a couple of instances.
I admire Tiny Furniture for not overloading on potential quirkiness, and for letting it's lurking hipsterdom feel like a bit of an outside concept to the main character (and to us). She saddles other characters, like the unnecessarily pretentious Charlotte or the Nietzsche-quoting, rocking horse riding Jed, with the traits that are more frustrating than they are funny. Many of the characters that Dunham shares screen time with are walking toolboxes beyond redemption. Instead of subscribing to a such an image, she’s a bit neutral. It’s also a nice touch that Tiny Furniture does not offer a happy ending, or even much of an ending. After all, every rant has to end eventually.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10