Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture (2010) is different from her show Girls in that the characters are younger and it’s centered on one family as much as it is 20-something problems and relationships, but its plot points also lead into the story of Hannah, Shoshanna, Marnie and Jessa that would be born on HBO years later.
The film, whether you love or hate Dunham’s work, (it seems like it’s usually one or the other for people) shows her talent for expressing human emotion on paper and on screen. Tiny Furniture is semi-autobiographical and it shows through Dunham’s bare-bones approach to depicting a college graduate moving back home to New York City from Ohio who (also post break-up) has no idea what to do with her life.
The character Aura, played by Dunham, is interjected back into the household of her mom Siri (Laurie Simmons) and sister Nadine (played by her actual sister Grace), which only amplifies her aimlessness and need to figure out her next step.
Dunham said, in an interview with Indiewire, that her character in Tiny Furniture does have some connection to Hannah on Girls, but their two-year age gap and distance from college creates enough of a difference.
Some of what Aura is struggling with in the film seems a bit trite and trivial in the scheme of things, but it’s also an honest portrayal of a young woman stuck between holding on to the bubble of her college life and friends and moving on.
I also couldn’t get enough of how minimalist the film appeared even with a busy city, parties, art gallery shows, fashion and all the rest of New York in the background.
Tiny Furniture clearly put Dunham on the map from its premiere at SXSW and beyond and her achievement is certainly admirable looking at what has happened in her career since then. (There is a new trailer for Girls, BTW, and now I am even more excited for season 5.)
Tiny Furniture is streaming on Netflix and worth watching, maybe a few times, to help pass the time until the premiere of Girls on Feb. 21.
I turned to a random page to pick a quote from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, so here you go:
“I don’t know. These are the stories I tell. Isn’t that what you’re looking for? These terrible deaths tearing through this pristine community, all the more strange and tragic given the context, the incongruity —”