Watching Tiny Furniture reminded me that I was once 22 years old. Remember 22? Do you remember it as this fun-filled, exciting adventure of new possibilities? Well, you’re lying to yourself.
Watching Tiny Furniture reminded me that I was once 22 years old. Remember 22? Do you remember it as this fun-filled, exciting adventure of new possibilities? Well, you’re lying to yourself. It’s a paralyzing, terrifying moment of stasis, when we don’t know who we are, or where we’re going, or what’s next.
Lena Dunham wrote and directed this slumming-of-age feature, and also plays Aura, our antiheroine (is that a word?). Aura just graduated college and her first stop is starting to look like her only stop—moving back in with her successful photographer mother and bound-for-success little sister in New York. Her real-life sister (Grace Dunham) plays her sister, and her real-life mother (Laurie Simmons) plays her mother, and guess what? It worked for me.
Living in Tribeca, fresh from a break-up and school in Ohio, Aura’s life is not as glamorous as we’d think it would be (don’t expect Parker Posey from Party Girl to show up), but it sure feels honest. She finds a job. She wants to create art. She searches for answers by reading her mother’s journal. She tries to kiss boys (one is played by the very funny Alex Karpovsky). She reacquaints herself with a childhood friend, Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), and Charlotte’s entrance might be the best character introduction I’ve seen in years. The pace might be slow at times, but it’s engaging to watch her as she makes her way to her own self, and all the conflicts that come with it.
I saw the screening at UCLA, and the audience was equal parts students/adults/homeless people. On second thought, maybe those homeless people were professors. Anyway, when Aura bursts out, “I’m having a really hard time!” everyone over 35 laughed, and the students didn’t. Whether that particular laugh was intentional or not, the dialogue is witty throughout, and the situations feel real. I laughed and cringed. Aura isn’t too self-aware, and Lena Dunham portrays her fearlessly.
So do you remember now? When you were 22? When you wanted to be treated like an adult, but you didn’t want to act like one? When you first realized that you had to navigate your own life? When you didn’t know yet that everything is difficult but knowing that, makes it easier? Maybe the title is to remind us, like the miniature furniture her mother photographs, we make things seem bigger than they are.