Film Review: Appropriate Behavior

DireABcted by Desiree Akhavan

Starring Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson & Halley Feiffer

OMG! Not another Bisexual Persian in Brooklyn Story!  Girls Co-Star Desiree Akhavan writes, directs & stars in her frank & painfully hilarious debut feature Appropriate Behaviour, a tale of a young woman looking back on her failed relationship.

When Shirin (Akhavan) breaks up with her live-in girlfriend Maxine (Henderson), we go on a criss-crossing non-linear journey through Shirin’s post-Maxine singledom as she fumbles through a series of offbeat sexual encounters with men, women & a hipster swinger couple juxtaposed with her rollercoaster relationship with Maxine – from their meet-cute on the steps of a brownstone outside a New Years Eve party just before midnight, to their many spats & fun times. This is essentially a relationship post-mortem movie akin to Blue Valentine, (the criminally little seen) Two for the Road and, of course, Annie Hall only without much focus on the other half of the relationship – Shirin is the main character whose heartbreak journey through hipsterville we follow.

On the surface this sounds like yet another cliché Indie dramedy about aimless twenty-somethings going to cool Brooklyn parties, bad hook ups, and then wisecracking about it over expensive lattes, but Appropriate Behaviour, though hitting on those familiar tropes, subverts it by its Bisexual Persian central character whose afraid to come out to her parents (they stone homosexuals in Iran, she points out to her girlfriend) and finds herself in the awkward spot a lot of westernized children of immigrants find themselves – alien to the social mores of your own race and fetishised by white people.

An interesting thing about Shirin, character-wise, that makes her stick out from the typical IndieWood lead is usually these characters are ones who find themselves at odds with what they’ve been brought up to believe the world owes them. But Shirin doesn’t have that White privilege, she just keeps struggling, digging for her next moment of bliss or love, suffering through dodgy flats, awkward trysts, weird jobs, overachieving siblings  – hoping, as much as we do, that she’ll eventually climb out of the doldrums.

Appropriate Behaviour is a promising debut from a gifted new voice who manages to illuminate lives that have typically been left out of film in a way that is accessible and genuinely funny.

 

4/5

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