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The Reel review with Alex

Tiny Furniture: one chair short of a table

By Alex Jabre
On February 14, 2012

Lena Dunham may be the luckiest 25-year-old in America. She's got a Judd Apatow-produced HBO series titled Girls premiering in April.

Not only that, her second feature,

Tiny Furniture, has garnered heaps of praise by critics, won an Independent Spirit Award and is already being inducted into The Criterion Collection — a DVD company for "contemporary and classic films."

So it is too bad that Tiny Furniture is yet another annoying

example of the "low-and-lost-in-your twenties"genre. Dunham stars as Aura, a recent Ohio college grad that moves in with her mother to figure out what she wants to do with herself. In this case, it means finding

a crummy hostess job and embarking on unusual friendships, including one with a YouTube star known as "The Nietzschian Cowboy."We even see a clip of the Cowboy in action, and it more or less defines the film's vague humor.

It isn't really funny or clever; just bizarre, like a punchline without

any punch.

Dunham — an Anna Paquin lookalike — is an engaging actress who exhibits an awkward charm and the film is beautifully photographed

(even if it uses too many static long-shots). I also like how it ends on a hopeful note that could be summed up as:"She's still figuring

stuff out."

Unfortunately, Tiny Furniture is whiny and self-pitying rather than quirky or lovable. "I'm having a very hard time,"Aura exclaims at one point. But why should we feel sorry for her?

Dunham wants us to believe her world is spiraling out of control

when it is just merely shifting.

Still, I can see why Apatow likes her. She has a kind of boldness

to her and isn't afraid to humiliate

herself in every frame. But to what end?

The Criterion DVD is loaded with extras, including a number of interviews and even Dunham's first film, Creative Nonfiction.

Probably the best way to watch it though is for free on the Sundance Channel. I wish Dunham luck with her new series, but I think it will soon become obvious that she is not the prodigious

talent critics are making her out to be.

Maybe you may see something in Dunham that I don't. But until then, I am praying for a film about a self-aware college graduate in a loving relationship who knows what he/she wants out of life. I can dream, right?


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