If you haven’t been there, then you will be soon. All your life, someone has told you what to do: go to school, finish college, get a good job, find a partner and you will live happily ever after. But in the process of growing up, you realize there is more to life. And now you have graduated, finally walked away from that unhealthy relationship and moved back into your parents’ house with loose thoughts and confusion keeping you up at night.
This quarter-life crisis is what director Lena Dunham focuses on in her film “Tiny Furniture.” With subtle quirky humor and indie charm, the film has won over audiences as well as many critics and is now being celebrated with its inclusion into the Criterion Collection.
Dunham, now one of the executive producers and stars of the HBO series “Girls,” directed, wrote and starred in “Tiny Furniture” with an estimated budget of $50,000 and her sister and mother as co-stars. She truly is an inspiration for young filmmakers, showing that one does not need a huge budget, stars or a name to get attention.
For her age and experience, Dunham delivers a well-written script (it seems improvised at times, though she denies it), well-rounded characters and a brutal version of the reality of today’s youth, particularly women. Her character, Aura, is not ashamed to walk around the loft half-naked or make videos of herself in a bikini with an imperfect body. She takes risks with people and stays strong during a difficult breakup. And yet, she is still a little girl who adores her hamster and fights with her mother about taking out the trash.
Dunham spotlights the awkward stage of young adulthood and does not criticize it, but rather sympathizes and comforts. This is especially obvious when Aura finds her mother’s old journal and takes refuge in very similar experiences that in retrospect don’t mean much to her mother now. But they sure did seem disastrous at the time, didn’t they?
The slow pace and bad acting in the film can be excused. Though I wouldn’t put her in the same collection as Kurosawa and Cocteau,“Tiny Furniture” is an impressive effort of a recently graduated filmmaker telling the story of a generation.