Sunday, July 22, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Tiny Furniture (2010) **

NR, 98 min.
Director/Writer: Lena Dunham
Starring: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Jemimah Kirke, Merritt Wever, Alex Karpovsky, David Call

Sometimes independent features rub me the wrong way. Creatively there is certainly nothing wrong with Lena Dunham’s feature film “Tiny Furniture”. It tells the story of a recent college graduate who moves back in with her mother and younger sister in New York. Played by Dunham, with her real life mother and sister playing her mother and sister, Aura isn’t having an easy time adjusting to being a responsible adult.

My problems with “Tiny Furniture” have to do with the fact that I don’t like anybody in it. I kind of like the mother, but her role is kind of aloof. She makes a good practical parent, but she also doesn’t seem incredibly involved in her daughters’ lives, despite the fact that they are right there in her house.

I understand that Dunham is trying to present a realistic and fair portrayal of something approximating her own experiences. Too much of the story matches her real life for it not to be somewhat autobiographical. So she doesn’t paint herself as a saint or having all the answers, but I had a great deal of trouble sympathizing with her. She also never seems to try too hard to make the right choices, nor do many of the people around her.

I spent most of the running time of “Tiny Furniture” grasping to find something to relate to, something to care about. Eventually I gave up, and I didn’t end up caring much at all about what happened to Aura or any of her family. That is something no storyteller is striving to achieve.

It’s tough to make a whiny brat into a heroine. Perhaps it’s even more difficult for a whiny brat to turn a whiny brat into a heroine. Dunham probably isn’t a whiny brat. Perhaps she should stop thinking of herself as one. Now that she has an Emmy nomination for her television show “Girls”, dropping the whiny brat umbrella could become easier or more difficult. Either way, I don’t think I want to hear about it.

No comments: