December 17, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Tiny Furniture' -- GRADE: B+

Review: 'Tiny Furniture' is hugely endearing

Laurie Simmons, left, with real-life daughter Lena Dunham, who wrote, directed and stars in a film about a woman’s search for self. (Lance Edmands)

Ah, to be young and lost.

Lena Dunham certainly isn't that, or if she is, she's hiding it very well while simultaneously exposing it. At the age of 24 she has written, directed and starred in "Tiny Furniture," baring her soul and chunky thighs for the world to see.

The result is an exquisite peek into young modern angst. Dunham plays Aura, just graduated from a midwest college and back in New York City, living with her art photographer mother Siri (played by Dunham's real-life art photographer mother, Laurie Simmons) and her precocious younger sister Nadine (played by Dunham's real-life precocious younger sister Grace).

If all this sounds a bit precious and forced, it's somehow not. "Furniture" follows Aura as she finds a job, worries about both her future and present, tries to connect with guys, fights with Nadine and flits about with her beautiful and artsy old friend Charlotte (Jemima Kirke, Dunham's real old friend).

It's a portrait of the latest nowhere generation, told in privileged tones obviously. Aura doesn't know what she wants to do exactly, but she's faced with the fact that now's the time to start doing it — or at least start doing something. She's scared, she's unsure and yet she knows she's smart and daring, as well.

There are romantic humiliations, tattoos born of boredom, an installation at an art gallery and too much drinking of wine. And lots of self-pity. Yet "Tiny Furniture" never feels whiny itself, more like a hyper-engaged artist looking in on what might have gone wrong.

Artful, smart, funny, sad and in its own small way dazzling, "Tiny Furniture" examines Aura's futility while Dunham's accomplishment overwhelms all despair. There is talent here. There is ambition. And there is hope.

'Tiny Furniture'

GRADE: B+

Not rated

Running time: 99 minutes

tlong@detnews.com

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