Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Post-College Blues

Tiny Furniture (2010) - Dunham
Winner of this year's SXSW Jury Award, at a glance, Tiny Furniture could fit neatly into the typical post-college subgenre that has been a staple in American indies for the last two decades, except it doesn't. Thanks to director/actor Lena Dunham.

Aura(Lena Dunham), a recent graduate from some liberal art college in Midwest with her useless film theory degree and a dying hamster comes back home, to the Manhattan loft, inhabited by her successful photo artist mother Siri (Laurie Simmons, Dunham's real mom) and her high school prodigy, prettier sister Nadine (Grace Dunham, her real sister). Only thing she has to show for her college education is a youtube clip of herself in an unflattering performance art (she already has 375 hits on it!). She is completely stumped at life after college with no job prospects, no ambition and no boyfriend. Only thing that is left for Aura to do is to overstay her welcome in the house and get into trouble.

Even though it has all the slacker genre trappings- affluent white family, sibling rivalry, obligated party scenes, snappy one-liners, Tiny Furniture rises above all the pre-conceived notion of being just another white privileged college kid movie. It's Dunham's guileless characterization of Aura that comes off as real, funny and endearing.

Tightly executed on Canon 7D in controlled static shots by a talented cinematographer Jody Lipes (Afterschool, Wild Combination and director of NY Export: Opus Jazz), the movie fortunately lacks any hand-held camera movement or meandering shots usually associated with indie HD filmmaking.

With Dunham's acute observation and embodiment of romantic humiliation and post-college confusion, Tiny Furniture is an intriguing mixture of autobiographical filmmaking and performance art. I'm looking forward to see what she will come up with next.

Review at twitch