Movie Review - 'Tiny Furniture' - Awfully Big Questions About Life And Love In a new comedy based very much on her own life, filmmaker Lena Dunham stars alongside her real-life mother and sister as Aura, a film school graduate who returns, jobless and recently single, to her family's house, hoping to find ambition and direction.
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'Tiny Furniture,' Awfully Big Questions

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'Tiny Furniture,' Awfully Big Questions



'Tiny Furniture,' Awfully Big Questions

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From an architect who's 103, to a filmmaker who's just 24. Shortly after Lena Dunham graduated from film school, without a job, she moved back in with her family. Then she wrote and directed a film about a woman who graduates from film school without a job and moves back in with her family. And she cast herself in the leading role. The result is a comedy called "Tiny Furniture."

Bob Mondello says it does feel true to life.

(Soundbite of film, "Tiny Furniture")

Ms. LENA DUNHAM (Filmmaker, Actress): (As Aura) Honey, I'm home.

BOB MONDELLO: Aura's triumphant return from college is not quite what she expected.

(Soundbite of film, "Tiny Furniture")

Ms. DUNHAM: Family?

Ms. LAURIE SIMMONS (Actress): (As Siri) Downstairs.

MONDELLO: Mom is photographing dollhouse furniture in her art studio and younger sis is modeling shoes, and�neither of them more than glances up�from what she's doing.

(Soundbite of film, "Tiny Furniture")

Ms. SIMMONS: Come say hi, sweetie. Come give me a kiss.


Ms. SIMMONS: We will be done really soon. How about if we order dinner and I let you choose what you want?

Ms. GRACE DUNHAM (Actress): (As Nadine) How long are you going to be staying in our house?

Ms. L. DUNHAM: Last I checked it's my house too. I have a whole bedroom.

Ms. G. DUNHAM: You used to have a whole bedroom. It's my special space now.

Ms. L. DUNHAM: I think you're being mean.

Ms. G. DUNHAM: I think you're being oversensitive.

Ms. L. DUNHAM: I just got off a plane from Ohio. I'm in a post-graduate delirium.

MONDELLO: This is, of course, a not-uncommon state for young graduates: no job prospects, no relationship, no place to call one's own. Still, it'd be nice to have a little support from somewhere, so Aura flirts with a couple of men who treat her like a doormat and reconnects with an old friend mostly for reassurance that it's okay to feel as aimless as she's feeling. The friend, who is sort of a flake, is obliging.

(Soundbite of film, "Tiny Furniture")

Ms. JEMIMA KIRKE (Actress): (As Charlotte) No one's even financially independent until they're at least 25 or even 30. What do you think you'll do?

Ms. L. DUNHAM: I have no idea what I'm qualified for.

Ms. KIRKE: I work at this place around the corner called Clandestino. It's like sort of a dinner bistro kind of thing.

Ms. L. DUNHAM: You're a waitress?

Ms. KIRKE: No, I was a hostess. It's the easiest job ever. You just have to look nice and greet people and then old guys send you drinks.

Ms. L. DUNHAM: I have no experience.

Ms. KIRKE: It's absolutely fine. On my resume, under skills I put: has a landline.

MONDELLO: As you can hear, filmmaker Lena Dunham has an ear for the pretensions of urban sophisticates. And she's pretty well captured how lost a person like Aura would feel when trying to live that sort of consciously self-conscious life, without being very sure of herself.

What's intriguing is that she's done it so close to home that she's actually�in�her home - in her mother's home that is, with names changed but Dunham playing basically herself; her mom playing her mom; her sister playing her sister; and a close friend playing her closest friend. The end result is that�"Tiny Furniture"�plays like situation comedy, but with an overlay of what theater folks call performance art. You keep thinking it must be autobiographical, except that the unambitious, increasingly sorry-for-herself sad sack who is so vividly getting her self-esteem tromped on by everyone who comes near her would never be able to pull together a film.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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