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But, in compensatory fashion, there is cute homoerotic flirtation among Dunham and her female friends to warm and console.Dunham’s mother, the artist Laurie Simmons, known for her work with miniature decor, plays the mother, Siri, in “Tiny Furniture.” Dunham plays the daughter Aura, and Dunham’s real-life sister, Grace, plays Aura’s teen-age sister.One imagines that Dunham is hoping that you’ll also find it funny, but in middle-aged viewers a protective, parental feeling toward these young people might make this impossible.In the pages of this magazine, Rebecca Mead referred to the sex scenes in “Tiny Furniture” as “dispiriting,” which seems to be only the tip of Dunham’s psychosexual iceberg. Which may be what life in one’s early twenties often is, and if we have forgotten, Dunham means to remind us.Almost every character seems a study in some kind of mental illness, and, as when Alice devours the Eat Me cake, the furniture can grow suddenly tiny around Aura—who looms large in her own mind, though, to her credit, she seems always game and rarely defeated, despite all. Lena Dunham, as she has said herself, despite her self-involvement, knows no vanity. in life but has its dangerous thrills in narrative art; if some of it includes pointless invasions of privacy (people in the bathroom), mostly we don’t notice or care.And despite the privilege of these Manhattan lives, the mood of the film, especially as it attempts to portray young quasi-adults in post-college purgatory, is sometimes so depressing—often the way a clown (e.g., Charlie Chaplin, Joan Rivers, Stephen Colbert) can be depressing, and I do think Dunham has clown aspirations—that one does not know always where to look.The youthful sex of educated, family-funded drifters that Dunham puts on the screen is mostly heartless and degrading, and not remotely exuberant, which is her point.In their two-tubbed bathroom in a giant Tribeca loft (their actual home) the two women artists, mother and daughter, are sometimes seen soaking simultaneously across from each other, as if they were reflections.
The title “Tiny Furniture” refers explicitly to the art work that Siri makes at home, as well as to the ways in which—as the film follows Aura to jobs, trysts, and parties in the months immediately following her graduation from college into an unwelcoming economy—replication is utilized in art and reality is reduced to plaything.It also seems to refer to the film’s “Alice in Wonderland” quality.(These are Laurie Simmons’s real-life journals.) “Did you ever have a job that wasn’t taking pictures of stupid tiny crap? As artist-mother (and artist’s mother) Siri seems less “preoccupied,” as some reviewers have written, than deeply tired.Her grown daughters are beyond-their-years starved for her attention and approval, competing with each other to sleep in her bed—where Mom is mostly, well, trying to get some sleep.
Is it the partially handheld camera or the partially handheld life that makes one woozy when watching the bold and talented Lena Dunham, whose much anticipated show, “Girls,” will air on April 15th?
In “Tiny Furniture,” her award-winning house-of-mirrors film, Dunham wrote a script starring her family and friends, most of them playing the people they somewhat are in real life, but with different names.