Tiny Furniture

January 5, 2011

Tiny Furniture

The worst thing that can happen to a person after graduating college is to have to enter the adult world. Luckily, this is not always necessary. One can always move back in with her mother, provided that her mother is really cool, lives in New York City, and is rarely home. It also helps when mom has a stocked wine cabinet and a freezer full of frozen appetizers.

Tiny Furniture stars Lena Dunham as Aura, a young woman who has just graduated college in Ohio and has returned to New York with no idea what she is going to do with her future. She stays with her mother for a few weeks as a stop-gap measure before her friend moves to town and they can get an apartment. But living with her mother is the perfect opportunity for her to “figure things out,” meaning hang out with fascinating yet unsavory people. Her best friend from when she was a young child, Charlotte, lives in the neighborhood, and they quickly develop the sort of obsessive friendship that causes Charlotte to be jealous of all Aura’s other friends. Aura also falls in with the two types of men all women should avoid, egoists and men who quote Nietzsche.

Wrong guy type 1

Wrong guy type 1

Charlotte helps Aura get a job as a day hostess at a restaurant, a job that entails taking reservations and flirting with the chef. This chef is the sort of guy that high school girls fall in love with. He is intense and interesting when you’re around, but he doesn’t actually care about you. He is likely using you for your drug connections, as a back-up if his girlfriend dumps him, or just someone to kill time with at work. He makes plans and breaks them. Instead of seeing him as the egoist he is, Aura spends her time analyzing and justifying his every word and action.

The wrong guy type 2

Wrong guy type 2

Meanwhile, a young video maker she met at a party is staying with her. He has a hit youtube channel, where he stars in videos in which he rides a toy horse and quotes Nietzsche. She met him at a party, invited him to see a movie, and found out that he was broke. So of course she invited him to stay in her mom’s house with her while her mom was away. He, too, is using her for her hospitality. And he’s the sort of bad guest who complains and makes suggestions. When the cool mom returns home, her greatest gripe is that this man who is staying in her house is not even sleeping with Aura.

Throughout the movie, Aura seems to become more childish, and relies more and more on her mother. She convinces herself that her mother needs her, so she decides to stay in her mom’s home rather than get her own place. Meanwhile, her sister writes bad poetry that wins awards, and makes cutting yet true observations about Aura’s lifestyle. Aura doesn’t seem to find herself like she had wanted, but to lose herself in a sea of people who have conflicting expectations of her. She makes poor decisions about who to please and how to please them. She tells Charlotte how everyone in Ohio was so sweet and serene, how they baked for fun, but how they didn’t ‘get it.’ It seems that her years away from cruel, self-absorbed people has caused her to remain naïve and easily manipulated. Yet, she is funny, observant and lovable, and ultimately relatable.

Tiny Furniture is playing at the Regent Square Theater through January 13th.


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