Self-absorption is the subject of Tiny Furniture (2010). A young woman named Aura returns from college to live again with her mother and sister and to decide what to do with her life. The dilemma is that she does not know what she wants to do, yet she feels pressured to decide. She needs to move forward, yet she returns to the same family issues she left when she went away to college. Probably she will become a filmmaker, and in fact Tiny Furniture seems to be the film she has made about her situation. In fact, it seems to be the film the director Lena Dunham has made about her own situation or at least one from her recent past, given the success she has had with this film and with the TV series Girls, which she produces, directs, writes and acts in. Lena plays herself, while her mother, a successful artist who makes photographs of tiny furniture constructions, and her sister appear essentially as themselves too, though all of them have changed names. She used her mother’s apartment as a setting.
Tiny Furniture is made as if it is a documentary, following the main character around in handy-cam fashion as she deals with her mother and sister, meets old friends, looks with increasing desperation for someone to have sex with (she finally manages to have sex in an abandoned sewage pipe with someone she has met at a party). The film is random and scattered, but what else could it be, as the chronicle of someone representative of what my youngest son refers to as millennials—creatures and products of the turn of the century, of the economic crash, of the altered circumstances of a post-Bush, post 9-11, recession era America?
The mother is an artist who photographs models sitting next to tiny furniture—hence the title. Her apartment is all white, with stark white and flat cabinets lining the walls. Despite her apparent success, she seems more torn and desperate than her prodigal daughter. It was interesting to sit through this film. I never want to see it again. Perhaps this is the point.