22-year-old Aura returns home to her artist mother's TriBeCa loft with the following: a useless film theory degree, 357 hits on her Youtube page, a boyfriend who's left her to find himself at Burning Man, a dying hamster, and her tail between her legs. Luckily, her trainwreck childhood best friend never left home, the restaurant down the block is hiring, and ill-advised romantic possibilities lurk around every corner. Aura quickly throws away her liberal-arts clogs and careens into her old/new life: a dead-end hostess job, parties on chilly East Village fire escapes, stealing twenties out of her mother's Prada purse, pathetic Brooklyn "art shows," prison-style tattoos done out of sheer boredom, drinking all the wine in her mother's neatly organized cabinets, competing with her prodigious teenage sister, and desperate sex in a giant metal pipe. Surrounded on all sides by what she could become, Aura just wants someone to tell her who she is.
Lena Dunham writes, directs and stars as Aura, the girl who really wants you to know that she is having a very, very hard time. Lena's mother, photographer Laurie Simmons, plays the fictional mother of Aura, and Dunham's precocious sister Grace Dunham plays Nadine, Aura's precocious sister. Alex Karpovsky and David Call are two very different but equally humiliating romantic interests; Jemima Kirke and Merritt Wever are Aura's diametrically opposed friends. This is Dunham's second feature film; the first, Creative Nonfiction, premiered at SXSW in March 2009.