Twentysomethings indie with charm and well-observed scenes
If we believe what we are told in indie cinema (and why would we not?), you can’t move in the households of older affluent Americans for twentysomething offspring who’ve strayed back home to replay adolescent dramas and avoid the horror of work. Momma’s Man by Azazel Jacobs was the indier-than-thou version; the Duplass Brothers’ upcoming Jeff, Who Lives at Home is the mainstream-friendly take; and pitched somewhere in between, with a Woody Allen meets Judy Blume vibe, is Tiny Furniture.
Director Lena Dunham stars opposite members of her own immediate family as Aura, a film studies graduate who moves back in with mom while pondering the next step. Which turns out to involve an uninspiring job, a couple of horrifying romantic encounters and a good-sized pinch of post-adolescent self-pity. Those with an inbuilt Miranda-July-deflecting twee-o-meter might wish to be apprised that Aura is an artist whose mother makes photo installations using the titular small furniture, and who hangs out with hipsters whose performance art is ‘big on YouTube’. But Dunham’s take on this context is acerbic rather than self-congratulatory, and her tone often has more in common with the darker work of the pre-megafame Candace Bushnell than July’s kookiverse.
Dunham is also a lovely, real-feeling onscreen presence, whose characterisation of Aura follows Bridesmaids in reminding us that female characters don’t have to be either idealised paragons or sex-hungry crones. Also impressive is Jemima Kirke as Aura’s spoiled childhood friend, Charlotte, whose preternatural cool throws Aura’s awkwardness into bumpy relief. The film is itself a bit light and aimless – nothing gets very real for Aura, and the nature of any potential change or recovery from her torpor remains obscure – but it’s got bags of baggy charm, and some brilliantly observed scenes.
Selected release from Fri 30 Mar.