Tiny Furniture - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Tiny Furniture Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 17, 2014
I liked this film because of how real and relatable it is. It may seem self indulgent but the point is to show how a recent college graduate deals with her issues and tries to figure out her identity as an independent woman in the real world. So, of course, the film features this character's (Aura's) flaws and virtues in ways we may not always like... just like every other human being on this earth. We are sometimes ugly, awkward, pathetic, depressed, and whiny. We get involved with people who aren't worth our time and appreciate others who we sometimes ignored out of sheer ignorance. I like how this film captures those concepts and tries to make us see that Aura is a work-in-progress. She still has a lot of maturing to do, but those stupid decisions she's making now (and which her mother made as well), will (hopefully) make her a better woman in the future.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2013
It's a quiet, slow film that features beautiful cinematography, smart writing, and some hilarious moments. However, its pacing is off-putting and not much is accomplished. Nonetheless, it has its moments of affability, and does showcase Lena Dunham's ability to make a dry, black comedy that (if a little more tweaking had been to it) might have been a success.
Super Reviewer
½ January 19, 2013
It's pretty tough to judge "Tiny Furniture" without judging its creator, Lena Dunham. The film is Lena Dunham, or at least a snapshot of her. That's the awesome thing about the movie - by directing, writing, and starring, Dunham has made something so personal that its hard to not be constantly impressed with her.

But the problem remains that she is self-absorbed. And thus, so is the film. She knows it, acknowledges it in her script, and has gone on to acknowledge it in Girls, but the truth is, she can't make anything that isn't about her, and she can't stay out of it. She wants people to see how she thinks, feels, and what she desires. And while this is an interesting film for exactly that reason, it also feels like listening to someone go on about their insecurities without a single thought given to anything outside of their bubble.

Lena Dunham continues to create in this way. She whines, though she is privileged, as if begging us to believe that she has problems too, and they are just as bad as everyone else's. And while such an experience in real life can be eye-opening, it can also be quite annoying - especially when it lasts an hour and a half.
Super Reviewer
½ October 21, 2010
Lena Dunham has this amazing ability to capture those awkward revealing moments that we all like to pretend don't happen to us.
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2010
"Aura would like you to know that she is having a very, very hard time."

About a recent college grad who returns home while she tries to figure out what to do with her life.

A young woman comes home after graduating from college and tries to get her life together as she deals with her mom, her sister, some friends and two potential boyfriends. The indie darling film is both much better than I expected but not as good as I hoped. Don't get me wrong its a good movie and worth a look, I just was bothered by a few things. First up some of the performances are uneven. Lena Dunham who wrote, directed and stars in the film is good, but erratic in her performance, I think largely because she's doing too much. The guy who plays the slacker who latches on to her and leaches from her for a couple of weeks is so dead pan as to be nearly dead. The character is also so unlikable you don't see what out heroine sees in him (his philosophical cowboy is not even clever). The other people are mostly good, with Dunham's mom hitting one out of the park in every scene she's in. Another problem I have is that while the camera work looks great its rather static and unremarkable. I understand Dunham was working under constraints but it makes the film feel like any number of indie films, which it really isn't. On the other hand the script is often witty and on target (why the film isn't like many independent films recently). I really liked much of the dialog even if the drama is uneven. If anything, Dunham's directorial debut is a good precursor for greater things to come as her successfully lauded HBO show "Girls" is earning tons of praise from both critics and audience alike.
Super Reviewer
May 8, 2012
I like Indie films - I really do, but all too often they seem to revel in their independent nature... or, to put it another way; just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should.

So, before I go on to the review of Tiny Furniture, I'm going to offer up a little Indie primer. First, create a script where nothing much actually happens (under the pretense of this being a "character study). Secondly, throw in some absurd peripheral characters (to add "interest" - as in "these characters are interesting, if weird"). Third, give little "clues" - bits of cinematic shorthand that can be interpreted by the viewer (to make the film seem "deep" and "arty").

Now, looking at the primer, let's see how Tiny Furniture stacks up. Script - check, nothing much happens here - which, of course is by design. In this case, this "slice of life" holds the added burden of the morass that frequently occurs upon college graduation; especially when you realize that your area of study holds little to no help in procuring a job of meaning in the real world. The setup is certainly here for some serious exploration into the subject and how to deal with it... but here the film settles instead for laying out the issue and then beating it to death with a character unable to make any kind of positive move in her life. Not helping matters is a too forgiving mother who mentions that she herself (now a "famous" artist) didn't accomplish anything worthwhile while in her 20's.

The odd supporting characters - oh yes, in abundance. Aside from the artistic mother who has her own odd set of rules, there's the brainiac younger sister (giving the script the opportunity to deal with sister envy), and then the best friend - who uses daddy, and daddy's credit card as some kind of restitution for mommy not being around (or some such drivel - it's never made quite clear). Add in two male interests - both grifters in their own way, and ridiculous in their actions and how our heroine reacts to them. After the artsy boy weasels his way into the heroin's home "just for a couple of days", he then has the nerve to call her an Indian giver when she finally asks him to leave weeks later. That she takes his browbeating fits the morass of her character, and is one of the flaws of the film - for no matter how down on herself she may be, anyone with any spine at all would have kicked the loser out the door and laughed at his protestations.

The "clue" parts of the film are also there. Things that seem real on the surface, and yet the kind of thing that one could look at and say "aha! A deeper meaning! Example number one - After the grafter boy tries out all the beds in the flat (what is this Goldilocks?) he ends up on an inflatable bed in the heroines' room (which she explains she purchased a couple of years back... hmm, she's been to college for the last 4 years so WTF? Just one of several examples of playing fast and loose with the cinematic time line). The grifter then complains that the bed is losing air, which leads to the duo sharing the same bed - but not sleeping together. Later, after the grifter has been kicked out, there is a scene where she deflates the bed as she sits on it, slowly sinking to the floor - ooh, artsy! (I hope I don't have to explain the significance of this, if you've read this far).

Another bit of lazy time line awareness is that over almost 2 weeks the grifter is reading the same short Woody Allen book - umm, the guy does NOTHING all day, has to spend hours waiting for her to return from work (as she has the only key to the flat), and yet he is unable to wade through a thin book given 2 weeks - what's he read, a word a day?

The film also throws in a seeming obsession with underwear or the lack thereof - I suppose this could be construed as "freedom" as it mostly occurs when the odd girlfriend is around; and taking the freedom or lack thereof motif a bit further there are several scenes in which the chunky heroine is seen struggling into spanks - film shorthand for being trapped, or restricted - which is bs, for her choices were her own and she decided to run home to the only place she felt safe instead of looking the real world in the eye and saying "bring it on".

Ultimately, what fails here is that I couldn't feel one ounce of empathy for the heroine, nor would I care to spend any time at all with any of the characters presented. I was especially pissed at the mother for allowing her daughter all that leeway while she attempted to "find herself". A little tough love would have gone a long way here - allowing her daughter to quit her job because it was "boring" is quite simply sending her the wrong message. Oh, your job is boring - well at least it's putting food on the table - so get used to it. We can't all be gifted and have life handed to us. Arrgh, this film's ethic pissed me off!

Ok, now that that's out of my system - I have to admit that the acting was real enough - no hard feat considering that the writer is also the main character, and she used her real life sister and mother to portray the appropriate roles. In the end, you can look upon this as an art piece - the same kind of pop art that so many people look upon and go "ooh, this is deep" - but to me the Emperor is still buck naked and while yes, I did actually think about what the film was saying, I found this a bit heavy handed and obvious, wallowing a bit too much in artsy pretentiousness. Ha, I just know that someone is going to read my review and sniff "poor boy, you just didn't understand the finer points". Have to disagree, I think I understood just fine, just couldn't care less about any of them, or their perceived problems.
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2012
Ohhhh myyyy goddd this filmmmmmm!!!! I have so many thoughts about this film, it made me sooo uncomfortable. Okay, so I do not getting my hair cut for a number of reasons, but one of them is because I hate staring my face in the mirror for like 40 minutes straight. I start becoming aware of the way I hold my face, and the zillion zits I have on my forehead, the irrregularity of my cheeks, all this stuff. That's how "Tiny Furniture" makes me feel. It has such a commitment to portraying the honest-of-goodness stuff of real life, its reality so, so close to my own, that it makes me feel horrible. I go to movies for escapism and aspiration, to dream of being as pretty and graceful as Rachel McAdams or to meet a man as debonair as George Clooney. And for a while I can fool myself that this dream is obtainable. But when someone is holding up a mirror to your life, albeit slightly distorted but close enough to REALLY resemble it, you realize what a horrible, wasteful, selfish lifestyle you lead and that there is no way you will ever amount of anything. All the men are misogynistic, all the women are submissive and fat. And see, these words I'm typing sound like an exaggeration, but this is the truth we've all mentally blocked from our minds. Lena Dunham is out with a vengeance to prove that this is 100% the case.
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2010
Lena Dunham is a newcomer that should be sought out and watched with intensity. She wrote, directed, and starred in this film, as well as her sister and mother who play...her sister and mother, but not really. Well, actually yes, really. For instance, in this very autobiographical film her mother (Laurie Simmons) portrays an artist who photographs very small furniture and in real life Laurie is most famous for photographing dollhouses. Much of this feels symptomatic of Dunham's real life, but skewed in order to show her as an ingratiated dilettante after graduating from school in Ohio and coming home to mooch off her family who are plenty happy to see her get herself together. Aura's problems, which aren't all too radical, are handled with some level of kooky false love for herself and the men she throws herself at. Much of this is Aura hating herself and thinking she's the victim of a family that disenfranchises her for some disgusting symptom of family dysfunction, while at the same time she has no path to follow in life and can't figure out if anyone's against her or just sick of her. Even though she's obviously spoiled and unaware of the travesties of her life, she's actually really likable as a character. We've all been lost without a paddle and unable to help ourselves because of a morbid sense of rejection, yet Dunham takes it to a self destructive level that feels realistic but also painful to watch for the audience. There are also these relationships she's trying to cultivate with two men who essentially seem to only placate her self esteem before crumbling it with their insincerity. The family antics as well keep you empathetic to Aura until she messes up again. The cast was brilliant, the writing was cause for celebration, and it was apparently mostly shot in Simmons' actual apartment, lending to a vibe that creeps into voyeuristic. Though this has been defined as mumblecore, the script was tight and the actors stuck to the material pretty well. Really, one the most dazzling films of 2011 and one of the better indies I've ever seen. Look for Dunham next on the HBO show Girls, which she also wrote, directed, and stars in. I really have high hopes for it.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2012
The reputation of this movie is more interesting than the movie itself. Lena Dunham surely deserves accolades for writing, directing, and starring in her first feature film. She cobbled together her real-life mother and sister to star as Aura's mother and sister - both of whom performed quite well. The lighting, costumes, digital film quality, and stark white set design look professional and ambient. Dunham herself is a fine actress, capturing the mental, physical, not to mention, utter sartorial lassitude of Aura, a recent graduate from an unnamed Ohio college that I totally guessed was Oberlin, and after some online research, found to be Dunham's actual alma mater. Knowing that Oberlin attracts free-thinking nonconformists of the hipster variety (not necessarily a disparaging statement), I'm not so surprised that a pseudo-intellectual, Mumblecore-esque, slice of life originated there (yes, a disparaging statement).

The rhythm of the dialogue is natural. All the characters sound different: Aura is disaffected and childish, Charlotte is worldly and blase, Jed is pretentious and quick. The narrative unravels halfway through though. Aura doesn't really seem to have "a very, very hard time" (as espoused on the movie poster) upon entering post-graduate ennui at first. People get angry without much exigence. It's not quite clear how her and Keith's affair starts and ends. Aura isn't presented as an attractive or experienced girl, so what attracts Keith to her? Is he "slumming it?" How does she acclimate so quickly to such a tawdry tryst? What's her damage, and how will she deal?
Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2010
Lena Dunham's autobiographical exposť successfully encapsulates the attitude of a generation of cynical literates who perpetually view their glass as half empty. To Dunham's credit, I found myself caring about her characters even though they're shallow and naive and ripe with a false sense of entitlement. Anyone who can make a film this good about the plight of overprivileged ingrates has a bright future in the industry.
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2010
Tiny Furniture is typical low-stakes mumblecore. Committed performances and a general knack for comedic setup don't do much to disguise the fact that all the main characters, for their gormless whining and mincing, are a collection of privileged white kids wandering through situations engineered to feel familiar to an audience, but without any real insight. It more or less plays like a half-complete highlight reel of all the insecurities you work to forget after you graduate. Its sociological mimicry is admirable, and Lena Dunham has obviously steeped herself in scenes like this as she tried to carve out a career in film; she has a careful eye for her milieu. The problem is that she doesn't construct any sort of meaningful, imaginative narrative out of her real-life experiences. Tiny Furniture is much more about the "is" and not the "what will be," and when working with such a shortsighted bunch of characters, a little admission of outside perspective would have helped to make the film much more mature.
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2013
Upon returning home to reside in her mother's(Laurie Simmons) apartment in New York City at least temporarily after graduating college, Aura(Lena Dunham, who also wrote and directed) is angry that her younger sister Nadine(Grace Dunham) has claimed her room for her own special space. At least there will be more space for Aura when their mother takes Nadine on a tour of college campuses. In the meantime, Aura reconnects with Charlotte(Jemima Kirke), an old friend, who not only lands her a job but also introduces her to Jed(Alex Karpovsky) who asks her out. However, their date is cut short due to lack of funds, meaning they lose the opportunity to check out whatever cool French film is playing at the Film Forum and instead head back to Aura's place.

With her first feature, the flawed "Tiny Furniture," Lena Dunham shows a great deal of promise as a first director, especially on the visual end of the spectrum. That's sadly not the case with either writing or acting.(Merritt Wever steals the movie in her brief time onscreen which speaks volumes to the last category.) But instead of saying anything meaningful or moving on from her semi-autobiographical meanderings, Dunham only moves physically and creatively across the Williamsburg Bridge for her television series "Girls." And negative points for hating on foreign films, by the way.
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2012
The premise of "Tiny Furniture" -- recent college graduate moves back home and tries to "find herself" -- sounds like a precious bore, but director/writer/star Lena Dunham's refreshing script will blow away anyone's low expectations. Dunham has a great ear for dialogue and an unusually good feel for the irregular explosions between family members that are quickly forgotten. She also has a remarkable lack of personal vanity -- you'll rarely see a lead actor so comfortable to show every complexion blemish and extra pound.

Dunham's character Aura has a photographer mother (played by her real photographer mother) and a tempestuous teen sister (played by her real sister). Their performances are so natural that you wouldn't guess they are amateur actors. They live in an attractive New York townhouse of consciously minimalist decor (a repeat gag involves trying to find things in a long row of identical white cabinets). Aura has a close college friend who's planning to move east to room with her, plus a long-time best friend already in town (scene-stealing Jemime Kirke). She gets a trivial job as a restaurant hostess and dabbles with two different guys, neither of whom are likely to give her a sustained relationship. There's not much more to know, and Dunham doesn't force any unnatural resolutions to her characters' issues.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2011
*INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD NOMINEE - yes, it's that time of year where I get to see all of the nominated films and vote prior to the February 26th broadcast. This one is nominated for BEST FIRST FEATURE, BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY, and BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY.

It came as no surprise to me that writer/director/actor Lena Dunham scored a series deal with HBO after seeing her adept, incisive feature debut, TINY FURNITURE. This micro-budget, semi-autobiographical gem stars Dunham, her real life sister and mother, and was shot in their own home, yet the authenticity doesn't stop there. Dunham plays Aura, a recent college graduate who returns home to figure out her life. She fights with her self-absorbed family, she gets a shitty job, reconnects with an old friend, and pursues a couple of men following the dissolution of her college relationship. That's about as much plot as you're gonna get here, but the joy is in the telling. Aura seems at first glance like so many sad, disaffected loners we've seen before (think Napoleon Dynamite) but a much sweeter, socially forward character emerges, and the movie takes on a much more fully-rounded tone. What emerges is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, lost and in need of a little positive reinforcement from someone...anyone. She can't get it from her mom, her sister, or many of the people she encounters along the way, and so she makes mistakes and lashes out at the wrong people sometimes, but there's always a quietly sweet undertone to this character that I loved. This is droll humor with a real beating heart, instead of the snide, hipster laughs we've been accustomed to in the past. A sadly grotesque climactic scene inside a corrugated pipe had me laughing and moved simultaneously and perfectly sums up this truly wonderful accomplishment.

Special praise to Jemima Kirke, who plays her gorgeous, wild child lifelong friend and turns her bitchy, stoned-out character into something memorable and touching. Since she'll be appearing in Dunham's HBO show, GIRLS, I predict future stardom for this great discovery.
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2010
Mumblecore is one of those movements that you either dig or not. I kind of dig it - little, handmade films that are young, rambly and right-now-funny. TINY FURNITURE is as close to mainstream as this movement has produced, and it's a good example of the advantages these films provide. Written, directed by and starring a 24? less? year-old, it captures in many ways exactly what it's like to be just out of school and completely adrift. If it's a little on the flatline side, that's by design, and the last 20 minutes pay off in a way that make the flat stretches before worthwhile. This may all seem like weak praise, but that's not true. I like this movie very much, and can't wait to see what Lena Dunham has up her sleeve in the years to come.
March 18, 2016
A pretty wholesome film that's funny, intelligent, and relatable, "Tiny Furniture" holds up a well-polished mirror to real life.
½ September 28, 2015
How does dreck like this get financed? There is nothing here that warranted making a movie. Do something better with your time. Like watching paint dry. Or scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush.
April 30, 2015
Criticism of Dunham's work usually consists of pointing out the privilege, entitlement, and irritating suspended-adolescence her characters exist within. These criticisms fail to take into account the fact that Dunham imbues her work with these themes intentionally, making it both an exploration of a subculture and an indictment of the ways in which this subculture functions. The transitional period between academia and stability is miserable and unappealing and annoying and it turns people into self-obsessed narcissists; that's exactly what Dunham captures here. "Tiny Furniture" has bizarre moments of humor offset with uncomfortable outbursts from a family with intentionally irritating qualities; if you view the film with this mindset the experience is much more rewarding both comedically and in terms of the insight you gain from these characters' existential musings.
August 19, 2014
It's funny for those that have a dark sense of humor. If you like the show Girls, you'll like this movie.
½ August 17, 2014
Tiny Furniture is a great indie film by Lena Dunham who made a show called Girls and it's still going. The film is about what Aura is going to do with her life, and that's it. It's not exciting, some viewers might not even like it because it's boring, but Lena Dunham is really good and she made it work out. Even the writing is good and it makes the movie interesting, funny, and realistic to me. I'm probably not going to watch it again in the future, but I'm glad that I watch it and had a great time with it.
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