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A film review by Philip Cheney
Tiny Furniture is a comedy that realistically depicts the post-graduate slump and the yearning for growth and success most students feel in the transition from college life to the real world. There is a fear in graduation, an anxiety that is at this time magnified by recession and looms with dread in every college student’s heart; to be thrown into the mass ocean of the job market as guppies when even the big sharks themselves are fighting over tiny morsels of occupation. The film is the second full length picture written, directed and starring Lena Dunham who portrays the main character of a recently graduated film student who feels her life is in turmoil, but as she might not realize it, most of it is probably her own doing. The film was made on a modest budget of $50,000; Dunham makes good use of the resources, directs good performances from her actors and gets good shots from the camera that resulted in an amusing film that grossed almost $400,000 making it a moderate success for the young filmmaker.
As the title beckons one to believe, the character yearns for a world that is small, contained and easily controllable: to find the success her mother found in photographing tiny furniture that lead to her respected artistic talent, but in life one often finds that dreams hold no promises and the apple can fall far from the tree. Aura (played by Dunham) constantly presents a desire for financial independence, as most young people can understand after tasting 4 years of freedom and being one’s own boss then moving back in with their parents and worrying about bills. The anxiety resulting from the struggle to obtain this desire gives the film a feeling of melancholy beneath the humor. Aura seems to have no development as a character by the end of the film, no breakthrough moment and lesson learned from the events that unfold. This could be the result of amateur screenwriting, or the work of someone who wants to portray adolescence with its true sense of naivety and stupidity.
On a technical aspect the movie is composed of very simple but eloquent shots and a fairly compelling soundtrack with a cast of vibrant actors who deliver their lines with a strong realistic tone. At times the script is capable of a sharp sense of humor that rivals the film “Juno” in stature. The style is reminiscent of Wes Anderson films and approaches filmmaking with a very Woody Allen sensibility. Anyone who is a fan of the films of those two directors will probably find this movie enjoyable. As a film student who will graduate in two years I found the film hilarious at times and fear inducing at others; visions to a possible future that is very nearby. I guess all there is to do is keep the laughs rolling and not take oneself too seriously as I feel Dunham promotes in her film.