Directed by Lena Dunham. Starring Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham. 98 mins.
Rating: Three and a half/Five
In cinemas now
SHARPLY WRITTEN BUT NARROW COMING-OF-AGE COMEDY IS A SAD PORTRAYAL OF A LOST GENERATION
We can only pray that future historians don’t look back on Tiny Furniture to understand todays 20-somethings. For this low-budget, mumblecore coming-of-age comedy about hipsters in New York puts all of the hideously indulgent, obnoxious and self-involved traits of this generation on painful display. This is a world where romantic interests are famous for being Youtube sensations called ‘The Nietzschean Cowboy’ and characters respond to meeting friends’ pets with comments like “A gerbil? How oldschool”, because apparently these days all self-respecting hipsters are taking care of ocelot-unicorn hybrids.
Written and directed by 24 year old Lena Dunham, the films’ authenticity comes from its autobiographical script, and production. Not only does Dunham play the lead character Aura, but her real-life mother and sister play her on-screen family. No doubt due to these real relationships, it’s the family interactions that are the most sharply written and effective, and Aura’s jealous bickering with her accomplished younger sister Nadine reek of the casual cruelty that occurs between siblings. It’s Nadine who points out Aura’s desperate need for validation, shown not only by her one-sided attractions to Woody Allen wannabe Jed and drug-and-woman-using co-worker Keith, but her constant need to put her body on display.
These very honest, funny and self-lacerating depictions of young, female insecurity are superbly, endearingly portrayed, while a humiliating, empty sexual encounter is a tragic display of a girl who – as she’s not afraid of yelling at her mother – is “going through a very hard time right now and is trying to figure it all out.”
But the self-absorbed, affected interactions between the over-privileged supporting players that make up Aura’s narrow world are –though being (or perhaps because of being)acutely observed – almost unbearable, and the lack of growth makes watching these characters an agonizing experience.
And while Dunham can’t be blamed for the flaws of a generation, she can be blamed for letting them detract from her otherwise sharply funny film. Because unfortunately, I don’t get to rate humanity out of five stars.