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Tiny Furniture [DVD]
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22-year old Aura (Lena Dunham) returns home from university to her artist mother's Tribeca loft with: a useless film theory degree, 357 hits on her YouTube page, a boyfriend who's left her to find himself, a dying hamster and her tail between her legs. Luckily, her train wreck childhood best friend never left home, the restaurant down the block is hiring and ill-advised romantic options options lurk around every corner. Aura quickly careens into her old/new life. Surrounded on all sides by what she could become, Aura just wants someone to tell her who she is.
Lena Dunham wrote, directed and stars in this knockout existential comedy, presenting a wildly imaginative take on romantic humiliation and post-university confusion. Tiny Furniture was shot in Dunham's family home, starring Dunham's mother (photographer Laurie Simmons) and her precocious sister Grace as Nadine.
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1. Too amorphous and plotless for its own good.
2. It shies away from any big dramatic fireworks, as if it's embarrassed that someone might say that it was unrealistic. Even when people are shouting at each other it's still grounded in the mundane reality of a quick loss of temper followed by apologies.
3. The ending is unsatisfying. The exact end point is precision picked for maximum randomness so that every single audience member can go, "What, was that it?"
The female characters were well drawn and had a warmth to them. The male characters on the other hand were all unpleasant and highly unlikeable. I don't know if it was because she couldn't write rounded male characters, or she was trying to make a point. Perhaps it's an accurate depiction of confusing, seemingly inscrutable male behaviour from a woman's perspective?
Not much of a plot emerged, and it was hard to be certain were the film was going as it didn't have a clear destination. There is a lack of focus on what the film is actually about. I guess it's mostly about her "romances", but neither of those two plotlines came to much of a conclusion.*
The title is a little pointless as the model furniture is a small detail of no significance or importance. There is no thematic relevance to her mother photographing them.
It was made on a shoestring budget of $50,000, and two of the main cast are the mother and sister of the lead actress-writer-director. Most of the movie was shot in their own home.
Apparently it was filmed using a very cheap, standard domestic high definition camera called a Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR. Visually it's a well photographed movie. It's not dingy or bad looking. I assume proper lighting equipment was used to make it look that nice. I thought it was odd that they filmed it in 2.35:1 widescreen, which is rather wide for a film that consists mostly of people talking.
The editing was often quite minimalist with some scenes shot as unbroken long takes. They were not riveting to look at, but she never held them so long that they became annoying.
The film was okay and the story was mildly eventful. The characters were interesting so I was never bored or left wondering why I was watching it. Although it doesn't add up to much in the end, I found it to be consistently entertaining.
* One character just dropped out of the film before the end. The other situation was kind of left hanging. Well it was resolved in some ways I suppose. The film left it up to the audience to work out what, if anything, was going to happen next.
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