“Appropriate Behavior”: Lead Character a Bisexual Woman

The recent film Appropriate Behavior, currently available on VOD, has been compared to Annie Hall, and Out tells us that the film actually makes “a lot of references” to it.

And then there’s also the frequent comparisons to a certain popular TV show in which, incidentally, its star/writer/director is a new cast member. Stephen Holden, New York Times:

Because ‘Appropriate Behavior is set in Brooklyn and focuses on the romantic confusion and misadventures of Shirin, a headstrong young Iranian-American woman adrift in hipsterland, this lively romantic comedy starring Desiree Akhavan, who wrote and directed, has inevitably been compared to ‘Girls.’ Shirin’s brash, off-kilter attitude is not unlike that of Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath. Both are self-centered, impulsive and brusque. But there are few signs that Shirin possesses Hannah’s driving career ambition.

But all that aside, Appropriate Behavior apparently does make its own mark. Sheila O’Malley, rogerebert.com:

…’Appropriate Behavior,’ even with its reliance on familiar types and tropes, feels like a unique vision of life seen through unique eyes. And so although we have all seen movies about deadpan Brooklyn hipsters, we haven’t quite seen this yet. Akhavan uses the clichéd environment and characters (aimless hopeful artists, cool parties, flat-affect wit) in order to highlight some of the voices and energies that have (typically) been left out of such stories up until now. There’s something fresh going on here, and it marks Akhavan as a filmmaker (and actress) to watch.

Also unlike Annie Hall/Girls, there’s a main emphasis in Appropriate Behavior on romantic involvement with women. From the start we know that there’s been a breakup between the main character and another female, in fact. “Shirin rides the subway looking morose, and the movie intercuts the character’s painful road to acceptance with flashbacks to the highs and lows of the relationship, always giving us a little more information about why Shirin and Maxine (Rebecca Henderson) were never really meant to be” (Stephanie Merry, Washington Post).

Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times:

Shirin navigates her post-Maxine freedom in a series of offbeat romantic encounters with men, women and even a latex-loving swinger couple. She gets a weird job, via her best pal Crystal’s (Halley Feiffer) stoner-dad friend (Scott Adsit), teaching filmmaking to rambunctious 5-year-olds. The semi-closeted Shirin must also deal with her traditionalist family members, including vigilant parents (Anh Duong, Hooman Majd) and about-to-be-engaged doctor brother (Arian Moayed), all of whom may — or may not — be in the dark about her bisexuality.

The trailer’s below:

THE UPSHOT

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:

While hardly groundbreaking, Akhavan’s blend of cultural insights and sweetly relatable, self-deprecating humor provide a charming showcase for a new filmmaker worthy of discovery…

‘You can’t keep playing the Persian card,’ Maxine says, which gets to the heart of the issue: ‘Appropriate Behavior’ isn’t a narrative about ethnicity or even LGBT struggles in the traditional sense, but rather a means of exploring the problems that result from reinforcing those very barriers. In the process, it introduces a thoroughly modern voice.

Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times: “…Akhavan’s confidently off-kilter approach to basic human interaction makes for an authentically ironic, adorably wistful, smartly observed ride. As her recent Independent Spirit Award nomination for first screenplay reconfirmed, she’s one to watch.”

Inkoo Kang, The Wrap: “Unabashedly truthful and restlessly intelligent, Akhavan’s remarkable, near-perfect debut has wit and charisma to spare. Miss it at your own risk.”

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