Lena Dunham’s Open House
Published March 8, 2010
TRAILER FOR TINY FURNITURE
Filmmaker Lena Dunham treads the turbid shallows of post-college fallout. In her latest, Tiny Furniture, the artist turns the camera on herself and her immediate family. Dunham favors a sort of hybrid of allegory and docudrama, evidenced in her collaborative shorts Delusional Downtown Divas (in which childhood friends Joana Avillez, Isabel Halley and Gabriel Held play childhood friends). In her first full-length feature, Dunham again casts her own ambitions and insecurities as the star of the show. Tiny Furniture depicts a girl adrift and attempting to moor herself; the film is that moor that rescues Dunham from the ennui of a directionless year after college.
Dunham is the daughter of artists Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham, whom she cites as inspirations, but not necessarily influences on her own work. “I felt like my parents were always involved with abstraction, and I wanted to do something very specific,” Dunham says. In Tiny Furniture, protagonist Aura (played by Dunham) returns home to Tribeca to her resentful younger sister Nadine and distant mother Siri, with no plans, an entitlement born of (the film implies) privilege, and a preternatural skill for emotional articulation bolstered by years of therapy. Much of the film’s charm resides in the believability of its characters, who occupy a territory in between theiractual personalities and instantly recognizable “types.” Tiny Furniture is site-specific cinema taken to its logical extreme, an inverse Truman Show where everyone plays himself but only the lead is completely in on the game.