Tiny Furniture did some sweet talkin’ to become a big hit with last night’s Traverse City Film Festival audience. It is a testament to the sophistication of its humor that this movie, about a recent college grad resisting becoming an independent adult, was so enthusiastically received by the TCFF crowd which tends to skew older (average audience member appeared to be age 35+). This slice-of-life comedy charmed its way around the absence of a traditional plot with outstanding dialogue and amusing, quirky characters that carried the day. A sold-out City Opera House audience roared with laughter from start to finish.
The screening was followed by a Q&A with the (not surprisingly) loquacious writer, director, and lead actress, Lena Dunham. Dunham shared that she’s currently writing a film about a character who moves from Michigan to New York. Having never been to Michigan before this week, she’d selected Michigan as the home state of her character based on the notion that she would probably like it here. “I could be from Michigan. Having my character be from Michigan made sense to me.” Apparently, Traverse City has made a good impression on her. “Now that I’ve been here, I do like it,” she said. (Insert quirky, dry, wry, upper-middle class New England smirk here.)
An audience member asked Dunham, “Would you classify Tiny Furniture as a Mumblecore film?” Mumbercore, is the appellation given to the American ultra-indie, low-budget, digital video movement of dialogue-heavy films about the personal experiences of 20-something characters utilizing amateur actors and much improvised dialogue. Dunham improvised a reply explaining how her low-budget, dialogue heavy, semi-autobiographical digital film about her 20-something experience was, to her mind, not a Mumblecore film, based on this one exception: she wrote a “tight script” that the amateur actors mostly adhered to. Hmm. Okay, let us take her at her word. Tight dialogue is the jewel in Dunham’s crown. Let her blind us with it. She may soon be joining the ranks of such comedic dialogue greats as Amy Heckerling, and attendees of the TCFF can say we were amongst the first to appreciate this 20-something talent.