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Movie Review

Tiny Furniture

Tiny Furniture
The move away from home for the first time is often hard, but the move back home after a taste of independence can be even harder. Lena Dunham explores this little-touched-upon predicament in her whimsical yet down-to-earth film "Tiny Furniture." It follows the misadventures of Aura (whom Dunham plays with vivacious charm), a recent college grad who finds herself living back at home with her mother and sister (played by Dunham's real-life mother and sister, Laurie Simmons and Grace Dunham). In the course of the film, Aura gets a job at a restaurant, meets new and challenging acquaintances, and tries to find her footing in a future as free from academia as it is limited by her return home.

"Tiny Furniture" deftly combines a certain homespun quality with a polished style that rings of a cross between Wes Anderson and Woody Allen. A quirky youthfulness seeps into even the darker moments, making the whole film fun to watch and wholly relatable. It feels almost like a stylized documentary—a quality that exists in not only the visuals but also the acting.

The casting is unique, but it inspires the question of just how fictional the narrative is when the characters and the events they experience are so real. It also raises the question of how much the actors had to stretch to play characters whose relationships mirror those in real life. But these are more curiosities than dilemmas, for the film stands perfectly well on its own. The proximity of Dunham's life to her character's is far more productive than problematic, for whether or not she and Aura are similar, Aura is an undeniably authentic character.

Dunham's performance is, aptly, the strongest in the film. At moments some of the other actors come off a bit too obviously as, well, actors. Still others give strong performances, particularly David Call as Aura's evasive co-worker and Jemima Kirke as her worldly childhood friend. Both have a compelling chemistry with Dunham that makes their scenes some of the film's most captivating. In all, "Tiny Furniture" is a simple story well done, capturing the often complicated situations that arise when one leaves the nest only to fly back.

Genre: Comedy-drama. Written and directed by Lena Dunham. Starring Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, David Call, and Jemima Kirke.

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