22-year-old Aura returns home to her artist mother’s TriBeCa loft with the following: a useless film theory degree, 357 hits on her Youtube page, a boyfriend who’s left her to find himself at Burning Man, a dying hamster, and her tail between her legs.
This is the set up for Tiny Furniture, one of the best loved films from the 2010 Rooftop Summer Series. The basic story might sound a little familiar (hopelessly lost recent college graduate bumbles around trying to find the point of life…or anything), but the neurotic charm of 24-year-old emerging filmmaker Lena Dunham ensures that nothing about the film feels stale. Dunham, who wrote, directed, and also stars in Tiny Furniture, imbues it with a captivating honesty and self-deprecating wit that have been winning it awards from festivals like SXSW, praise from publications like The New York Times, and comparisons to Woody Allen.
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Tiny Furniture‘s appeal is heightened by its parallels to Dunham’s real life. Like Aura, Dunham dabbles in the world of webisodes (she created the online series Tight Shots and Delusional Downtown Divas). Lena’s mother, successful photographer Laurie Simmons, plays the fictional successful artist mother of Aura, and Dunham’s precocious sister Grace Dunham plays Nadine, Aura’s precocious sister. But it is Dunham’s carefully eccentric choice of details, from prison-style Bic pen tattoos to an awkward sex scene in a giant metal pipe, that gives the film its biting originality. It also includes a winning performance by veteran Rooftop Alum Alex Karpovsky as one of Aura’s humiliating love interests.
Don’t live in New York? Find out when Tiny Furniture is headed for your neighborhood.