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August 8, 2011 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

The Furniture

Writer/director/actor Lena Dunham’s debut film, Tiny Furniture, is honest in its self-reflection. Whilst most ‘indie’ films attack self-reflection with a hand-held camera and blunt recognition of awkward character intrigues, Tiny Furniture gives precedence to the embarrassing moments of reality that secretly (but not so secretly) guide most of our lives.

Dunham plays the lead role of Aura and invites us to be a part of her post-graduate slump. Her story unfolds leisurely as she drifts back into her past existence in her family’s white-walled apartment with a mother and sister who both stand as monuments of success (and are also played by Durham’s real kin). Aura meanders in this past—so much so that, as you sit and wait for a real story to kick in, it never comes. Dunham’s film is not a narrative piece packaged with a bow of meaningful messages or epitomising influence; instead, it is a documentation of what is existence in identity.

Dunham’s role is as honest as it is embarrassing, giving rise to potentially my favourite aspect of the film. Lena Durham succeeds in her portrayal of Aura, a character with cellulite, a food belly, a useless film degree, a need for want and a want for desire. The film invites us to witness her post-graduation existence, filled with, among other things, the most unromantic act of spontaneous, unprotected public sex; the presence of internet, complete with its ridicule and welcoming of misfortune; the question of friendship versus self; and the wait for the answer to the now.  The film ultimately brings together all of Aura’s indignities, succeeding in driving home a closely-observed representation of today’s average graduate, an individual steeped in aimlessness, vulnerability, and self-loathing. Further to Dunham’s credit, she brings a humour and unapologetic lack of self-awareness to her female protagonist, making universal the concerns of Judd Apatow and the male-driven world of comedy. A film I would recommend, but not a film to live by.

[ssba]

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