Appropriate Behavior (2014)

In this film (written, directed and starring Desiree Akhavan), Shirin is a young Iranian-American woman living in Brooklyn and trying (unsuccessfully) to have multiple identities. She wants to be a hip Brooklynite, have a successful career, and be a good Iranian daughter (which is why she hasn’t told her parents that she’s bisexual and in a relationship with a woman). At the start of the film, Shirin has just broken up with Maxine (a rather dour and serious woman who has a bit of an Annie Hall vibe going on visually), and is mourning the relationship and trying to work out what went wrong. We see snapshots from her time with Maxine in flashback as she gets to grips with her future.

That makes the film sound a bit heavy and depressing, but actually, there are a lot of laughs (deadpan ones) in this film. Shirin is fantastically awkward, and a lot of the funny moments come from her ineptitude. There are some hilarious moments: her dreadful first date with a young female lawyer, and the visit by her parents to the one bedroom flat she shares with Maxine is another (she claims they are saving money by sharing a bed) are a couple of particularly memorable ones. She also becomes a warm and sympathetic character gradually through the film, and you want her to be happy.

There are also some great supporting characters, including an insufferable woman called Tibet, a stoned Dad who persistently get’s Shirin’s name wrong (and loses track of his 5 year old son, Carrington), plus a slightly terrifying goth with whom Shirin shares a loft after her break up. It’s a very enjoyable film, and I’ll be looking out for Desiree’s next one.

films comedy drama

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