By Hemanth Kissoon
“Listen, if you’re feeling lonely you can come with me back to my place, and we can take an ambient and watch ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’.” Charlotte (Jemima Kirke) to Aura (Lena Dunham)
The subgenre of mumblecore emanating from American independent cinema has a mixture of John Cassavetes (ordinary people just talking), with the modern rom-com (where love-life and career aspirations are paramount). Script and performances are everything. I love mumblecore. The stuff we get at film festivals and on general release is immensely satisfying. It is debatable whether TINY FURNITURE fits within that mould – it is better shot and far funnier than most, if not all, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Though what this movie does share is awkward and believable interactions, between flawed and credible human beings.
The ridiculously talented hyphenate actress-writer-director Lena Dunham casts her real life sister and mother in this hugely enjoyable twenty-something, self-consciously navel-gazing, crisis of direction. (Dunham will be seen later this year in Judd Apatow’s KNOCKED UP sequel, THIS IS 40.) She appears to be scarily effective at putting on the screen life’s uncomfortable moments without approaching say FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS territory (nothing wrong going there by the way, it’s just something closer to realism is appreciated too).
Dunham’s Aura is back in New York after graduating from university in Ohio, having studied film theory. Her relatively sheltered 22 year existence is at an end, and is experiencing ambivalence and inertia. Aura has also just broken up from a two relationship. The running time is taken up with brushing abrasively against her family, friends and potential lovers. Solipsism and humiliation abide, shot through with charm and magnanimity.