Appropriate Behavior – Review ★★★★

Already dubbed “The New Lena Dunham” by Variety, writer-director Desiree Akhavan has impressed critics everywhere with her breakthrough feature Appropriate Behavior that debuted in last year’s Sundance Film Festival. Athough there are hints of Girls and Obvious Child, this is more than just another Brooklyn-set indie comedy, and defines Akhavan as a fresh new voice.

Akhavan casts herself as 20-something Shirin, an Iranian-American bisexual who’s struggling to adjust to life after breaking up with her girlfriend Maxine. We chronicle their relationship through flashbacks, from their first kiss to their last fight, all while reflecting on Shirin’s now tumultuous journey through the New York dating scene and her challenge to come out to her traditional Persian parents.

As serious and emotionally loaded as all that sounds, Appropriate Behavior is out to show how saying the wrong thing/looking like a weirdo etc, can all act in your favour. It’s entirely human, and most of all, it’s really funny.

Akhavan seems to have the same agenda at Dunham when it comes to breaking down any barriers that still exist around portraying awkward sex/nakedness on film. The first scene sees her throwing away her massive strap-on in a dumpster and then going back to retrieve it a minute later and carrying it down the street for all of Brooklyn to see. There’s certainly nothing shy about it (nor should there be).

What’s most impressive about the film, is that aside from its LGBT themes and insight into Iranian culture, it’s not trying to shove any message / lessons down anyone’s throat. Its message is that all these minorities deserve as much of our screen time as anyone else without making a huge deal of it, and that’s definitely a bottom line worth championing.

While not being particularly groundbreaking, Appropriate Behavior is an enjoyable comedy and a sweet romance and most of all it showcases Akhavan as an exciting new voice for the New York film scene.

Appropriate Behavior will be available on VOD from January 16th. Check out appropriatebehaviormovie.com to find a screening near you.

Flossie Topping is the former Editor-in-Chief of Critics Associated (2013-2015).