Tiny Furniture (2010)



Lena Dunham’s the writer, director and star of Tiny Furniture, a drama/comedy that had a tiny budget of less than $70, 000.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Tiny Furniture, being more familiar with the work of Dunham’s artist mother Laurie Simmons, but what I found was a gritty self-portrait. Aura (Lena Dunham) inhabits a strange directionless place, the movie plot mirrors this directionless feel that in turn mirrors a directionless time in Aura’s life.

What I liked most about this movie was Aura, as vague as she is, because Aura is average looking, however, you won’t find her on the ‘Clapham Omnibus’ – she clearly comes from a wealthy family with a loft in Tribeca. Aura isn’t vain, she’s not a Hollywood size 0 and rather than portray perfect young love, cool kids and easy social interactions Dunham paints a realistic portrayal of a time that struck a nerve and turned a light on hazy memories labelled ‘my 20’s’.

The film’s title in part refers to Dunham’s mother and her career photographing dolls and doll house furniture. The name Aura and the way in which this movie skirts the edges of Dunham’s real life has me wondering about auras, reproductions and Walter Benjamin.

Tiny Furniture tells the story of Aura, recently graduated from film school at an Ohio college. She’s suffered a relationship breakup and returns home to live with her Mother (Laurie Simmons) and sister Nadine (Grace Dunham) with one piece of work from film school, a video of herself in a bikini.

Aura’s sister Nadine, (Grace Dunham), about to graduate high school is more successful than Aura – she brings an element of sibling rivalry. At a party Aura runs into childhood friend, Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), who helps Aura find a job as a hostess at a local restaurant. At the same party she meets Jed (Alex Karpovsky), a You Tuber who rides a toy horse while quoting Nietzsche. Aura waits for her best friend from college due to arrive in a couple of weeks, as they have plans to rent an apartment together.



While her mother and sister are away visiting prospective colleges Aura invites Jed to stay for a week, and on her mother’s return she fights with Jed, her mother, her sister and her best friend from college. She gets high and has unprotected sex with a junior chef (David Call). And it’s here at the sex scene that I struggled, because I found the scene both unexpected and jarring.

Not only for people of Aura’s age this movie’s for people like me – a forty something who imagines their 20’s were actually carefree. Tiny Furniture serves as a reminder for the forty something with late teen to adult children who might be experiencing the transition into adulthood. If you’re looking for a feel good coming of age movie with a ‘breakfast club’ this isn’t it – Tiny Furniture won’t be to everyone’s liking.


Image – tiny furniture | Culture Blues. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cultureblues.com/2012/01/the-instant-movie-club-tiny-furniture/tiny-furniture/12.7.17

Watch It: ‘Tiny Furniture’ & ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ – hard.in.the.city. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://hardinthecity.com/2012/05/31/watch-it-tiny-furniture-bill-cunningham-new-york/12.7.17