Warning: don’t expect any sugarcoating when watching something by Lena Dunham.

If you’ve been paying any attention lately, you will probably be aware that Dunham is television’s next big thing. At just 26, she already has a hit TV show and a critically acclaimed film under her belt; what’s more, not only does she star in them, she created and directed them too.

What’s most refreshing about this up and coming actress-slash-filmmaker is that pretentious does not seem to be in her vocabulary. Nor does it in any way describe her art. Indeed, Dunham is about as real as it gets, in the subjects she explores just as much as in the way she treats them.

…daring and at the same time mundane…

Tiny Furniture, Dunham’s debut film, is daring and at the same time mundane. It’s daring in the way it analyses life through a post-college but pre-real world lens; mundane because nothing really exhilarating happens. Funnily enough this plays to the film’s advantage.

Dunham plays Aura, a twenty-something fresh out of college who moves back in with her mother (Laurie Simmons) and younger sister (Grace Dunham) in their trendy New York loft after a bad break-up. She soon realizes that her film theory degree doesn’t exactly make her qualified for anything in particular, so she spends half of her time dragging herself around at home in sweat pants.

…making it believable…

The other half entails getting a meaningless part-time job as a hostess in a restaurant, arguing with her family and flirting with men who don’t really acknowledge her existence. In short: life without Sex and the City’s dated and unrealistic glamour and glitz.

In Tiny Furniture, Dunham may not put this generation in its best light but portrays it in a deeply authentic way, making it believable and most of all relatable for all those out there trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

…it is so open, raw and honest…

The fact that the storyline is semi-autobiographical (Dunham’s real-life mother and sister play those roles in the film) somehow makes the viewer empathize with Aura. Though maybe not the most loveable character on screen, and definitely irritating at times, you feel for this young woman who leaves university with such confidence, only to realize that life is not all that simple.

The film, constantly walking on a thread between fiction and reality, could easily be depicted as self-centered. However, because it is so open, raw and honest, it’s more Dunham’s attempt at self-awareness than an egocentric self-portrait. Aura’s lack of vanity and her couldn’t-care-less attitude are examples of self-deprecating elements that make the film a witty caricature of today’s generation.

…it wasn’t much talked about at the time of its release…

Watching Tiny Furniture is like reading a diary as opposed to reading a novel. Its loose plot filled with ordinary experiences takes the place of a tightly structured story with a beginning, middle and end. Typically branded as a low-budget indie film created by an unknown newcomer, it wasn’t much talked about at the time of its release.

But maybe now that Dunham has put herself on the map with the release of her successful new series, Tiny Furniture may finally get the attention it deserves.

4 Stars

 

About The Author

Inês Azevedo is a Portuguese student journalist with a passion for film and video, reporting on culture, television shows and everything quirky. Inês, who in 2010 moved from Luxembourg to London to study at just 17, is currently finishing her Journalism degree at City University London.

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