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November 07, 2010

Tiny Furniture

Tiny Furniture The fad movement known as mumblecore few baby steps in writer/director/actress Lena Dunham's melancholic piece of navel-gazing. Empathetic characters are nowhere to be found.

Dunham plays 22-year-old Aura. She returns after college to live in her artist mother's palatial TriBeCa apartment where Aura's bitchy — and hotter — younger sister Nadine (Grace Dunham) rules the roost. Aura plans to move into an apartment with a college girlfriend in the coming weeks, but lacks direction and motivation. At an East Village party Aura meets YouTube phemon/experimental filmmaker Jed (Alex Karovsky). He is allegedly in town for meetings with television networks like HBO. Aura, who has a film theory degree, makes experimental films that she too posts on YouTube. Overlooking Jed's snotty personality and lack of money, Aura invites him to stay with her at her mother's place while mom (played by Dunham's real-life mother Laurie Simmons) and sis are away. Despite the obvious opportunity, Aura is unable to tempt Jed into any sexy time. Meanwhile, at her new job as a restaurant hostess, Aura attempts to work her limited womanly wiles on pill-hungry sous chef Keith (David Call).

Dunham made "Furniture" in her mother's actual apartment. She colors the anti-plot narrative with vague pop culture references to BDSM, Woody Allen, Craigslist, and Rachel Maddow. There is a bland naturalism at play, albeit a narcissistic one, that comes across in a series of amorphous scenes that go on much longer than they should. Anger, frustration, and confusion are in plentiful supply. The movie is weighed down with too much emotional baggage for any humor to seep through. Watching "Tiny Furniture" is like showing up for a dinner party but being taken to the dentist instead. It's not a pleasant surprise.

Not Rated. 98 mins. (D) (One Star - out of five/no halves)


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