Hilarious, accomplished and idiosyncratic debut from Desiree Akhavan
Appropriate Behaviour is a beautifully observed breakup comedy told from the perspective of a Persian-American bisexual woman, living in Brooklyn, who is afraid to come out to her parents.
Desiree Akhavan (recently seen in Lena Dunham’s Girls) writes, stars in and directs a first feature that's hilarious and heartfelt in equal measure. She's not afraid to push buttons and fire up debate but her focus is on emotional pain, longing and the things people do to distract themselves from their worries.
We meet twenty-something Shirin (Akhavan) in the aftermath of her breakup with long-term girlfriend Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), as she attempts to get to grips with her situation by reflecting on their relationship. Akhavan intercuts the present day – which sees Shirin move into an apartment-share – with the past.
The sharp dialogue and naturalistic tone recalls the aforementioned Dunham’s Tiny Furniture, but at all times Akhavan's singular personality shines through. Her poised performance proves to be another highlight, as she ably shifts between biting comic remarks and sadness. 30 Rock's Scott Adsit also makes an amusing appearance as a constantly stoned father, who keeps a less than watchful eye on his young son.
Shirin gets involved in a cringe-inducing threesome as she attempts to forge a connection with another human being. But her hapless efforts at finding intimacy, which she seeks in all the wrong places, wind up having a toxic effect on her.
What sets Akhavan’s endeavour apart is the honest way in which she presents Shirin’s internal conflict. With her Persian roots and sexuality at odds, she is in the midst of an identity crisis and it’s actually very moving to witness how this affects her interactions with the people around her. Appropriate Behaviour is a confident and witty debut about finding yourself and fitting in that knows exactly what it wants to say. Akhavan is undoubtedly one to watch.
Selected release from Fri 6 Mar.