Movie Review - Appropriate Behavior

I haven't seen too many films about contemporary or even modern-day lesbians, especially not those in the United States. I've seen many films on the contemporary and even modern-day, gay male. It is not to say that the differences between a lesbian love story and a gay-male, love story are vast or much of any at all. It's simply going to be difficult for me to put into context this film with others of a more exact type.

Writer-director-star Desiree Akhavan plays Shirin, a young, bisexual woman living in Brooklyn who gets a school job where she teaches filmmaking. At the beginning, Shirin breaks up with her girlfriend Maxine, played by Rebecca Henderson. She packs up her stuff and moves out Maxine's apartment. The story follows as Shirin tries to recover from this separation, while also showing the flashbacks depicting the relationship between Shirin and Maxine.

Some might dismiss this film as yet another Sundance, New-York hipster, slightly step-above Mumblecore, Edward Burns and Woody Allen-like, independent movie. It distinguishes itself by centering on a woman of Iranian descent who is gay, even though Shirin rejects people's interest in her solely for these distinctions. Despite her droll and deadpan style of humor, as well as the kind of social awkwardness typical of comedies of the past decade and of the Millennial generation, the selling point is Akhavan's comedic moments, which are virtually every scene.

Better than reality shows like Shahs of Sunset, Akhavan does what she can to deconstruct any prejudiced ideas about Iran and herself being of Iranian descent. Akhavan also does what she can to deconstruct any preconceived notions about lesbians. In that, some might think lesbians or gay women are any different from any one else. She also has fun with sibling rivalry, as she has a passive aggressive battle with her brother. Their relationships with their parents are ripe for ridicule, and Akhavan makes it work and is quite funny.

There is this re-occurrence of people doing things, even unusual or uncomfortable things that they wouldn't normally do like a threesome or kissing someone to whom you wouldn't normally be sexually attracted. It's an example of people engaging in extreme behaviors when they're lost or hurt, or lacking in something.

Like with The Skeleton Twins, this movie actually has a really good fart joke. It's rare for a joke like that to make me laugh, but this movie did. Akhavan is funny. Her character here is a bit of a mess, but Akhavan makes her a lovely if not frustrating mess. My favorite scene in that regard is Shirin with her friend Crystal in a lingerie store where that frustrating mess and for a sweet and sexy moment, Shirin's self-effacing or low self-esteem is lifted.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains nudity, sexual situations and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 26 mins.


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