“Are you as entitled as my daughter?”
“Oh no no, I’m much worse.”
An artist mother is talking to her 21 year old daughter’s friend – a trust fund child to similarly art-inclined NYC parents – in the Tribeca loft the kids are crashing at having recently graduated from college. It’s a poignant moment about half way through Tiny Furniture, the feature-length directorial debut Lena Durham, who is also the film’s star, and summarizes the time sensitive subject matter it grapples with perfectly.
Time sensitive matter because – as a member of that much derided Gen Y herself – Lena Durham has collated the intricate nuances that make us members of this movement into Aura, a self-conscious and entitled young adult with some serious first world problems. Inviting a dude who is “famous on YouTube” to live with her, taking a job as a waitress but then quitting because - in proud possession of a film degree - she should not be working in hospitality, having one night stands on street corners and desperately trying to source prescription medication are the daily gripes this young women faces. Life is tough, right? However, instead of deriding the superfluous nature of her issues you find yourself laughing and crying along with her. Durham, through her exceptional script aided no doubt by the fact that she took on leading lady duties too, delivers every scenario in a completely honest and hilarious way, and I was in a constant state of cringe at the relationship I share with things like slashie professionalism, awkward introductions to friends-of-friends at parties, false-fame, and completely irrational arguments with parents who don’t understand why the hell we’re so damn depressed.
Durham shares the awkard conversational style of Noah Baumbach’s turns with The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg, a style that I read in the LA Weekly described as mumblecore, although that sounds almost as ridiculous as the leading ladies being called Manic Dream Pixie Girls – Durham actually avoids such stereotypical characterization by being far more honest and confronting with her physique than most. A quirky marriage between intellectualism and the trivial sees Durham create a series of super-specific in-jokes that become as intricate as the Twitter feeds and Facebook updates they reference. A scene where Aura is asked to get her mothers purse from “the white cupboard” only to show her facing two walls of plain, white cupboards – this is Tribeca, people – demonstrates the profound way Durham weaves dialogue around the actions of her characters and totally reminds me of that scene in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited where the three brothers are standing outside the train asking “How a train can get lost when it’s on tracks”. LOL.
This feature-length debut suggests the birth of a quirky and intelligent new talent, and I loved this film as much as I hated it for reminding me that I’m the same entitled, cringe-worthy young adult that Aura is. Totally go, just not with anyone over the age of 50 – i.e your parents - ‘cause they just like totally won’t get it.