Have you been looking for a way to fill the Lena Dunham void in your life after last week’s season finale of “Girls?” Or have you been the idiot that hasn’t experienced the brilliance of “Girls” and thus needs to be introduced to the comedic genius of Lena Dunham? Regardless of which person in the scenario above you are, you need to see “Tiny Furniture,” Dunham’s debut future which introduced her to talents into the entertainment world. It’s a freshly real burst of humor into a genre characterized now mostly by vapid ribaldry and high concept hijinks, so much so that I have named it my “F.I.L.M. of the Week.” (I realize it’s been a while, so I owe you all another unpacking of the acronym “F.I.L.M.” It stands for First-Class, Independent Little-Known Movie.)
I often use the phrase twentysomething as a pejorative, but now that I’m three months removed from becoming one, it’s about time I start embracing it. Thanks to Lena Dunham, I know what to expect. I know to embrace the awkwardness, the uncertainty, the belittling, and the pockets of fun as just part of the age. Most movies painting a portrait of an age or a specific stage of life usually wind up totally missing the mark and just make me scoff. Yes, I’m looking at you, just about every high school movie whose title is not “Easy A.”
Dunham’s “Tiny Furniture,” on the other hand, suffers from no Hollywood-itis. Her storytelling suffers from no illusions or fabricated myths about being twenty. Aura, her surrogate here that yields many revelations into her character Hannah on “Girls,” is not even trying to get her footing in the professional or post-collegiate world; she’s trying to find where the ground is. Her frustrations are chronicled with her family, her job, and her friends. While it’s nerve-wracking for her, thankfully Dunham’s organic sense of humor makes the discontent more than just watchable – it becomes insightfully entertaining.
“Tiny Furniture,” much like “Girls,” isn’t a typical comedy where people just spout off ridiculous lines that make you think, “Gosh, whoever wrote that is wicked clever.” Dunham’s film finds humor in the mundane and ordinary – in other words, where us regular people are forced to find it (because not everyone can wake up with a tiger in Las Vegas). The dialogue gives us plenty of quotables but nothing too outrageous; they are the kind of things that normal people would say. Her slice-of-life is filled with bitter cherries, tasty but not withholding the painful nature of things. So if you are like me and had “Tiny Furniture” dwelling in the middle of your Netflix queue for months, it’s time to bump this to the top. The furniture may be tiny, but the payoff is huge.