DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR (director/writer: Desiree Akhavan; cinematographer: Chris Teague; editor: Sara Shaw; music: Josephine Wiggs; cast: Desiree Akhavan (Shirin), Scott Adsit (Ken), Anh Duong (Nasrin), Halley Feiffer (Crystal), Rebecca Henderson (Maxine), Arian Moayed (Ali); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Cecilia Frugiuele; Gravitas Ventures; 2014)

"Ms. Akhavan shows promise as an assured director, a talented writer and an interesting actress."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 30-year-old newcomer, the Iranian-American director Desiree Akhavan, in her debut feature, also writes and stars in this indie romantic melodrama. She plays a young woman, Shirin, on the rebound from a hurtful lesbian affair and who is now trying to find her identity as a young adult.

We first see Shirin bolt from the Park Slope apartment in Brooklyn of her humorless girlfriend Maxine (Rebecca Henderson). Shirin then, in a scattered way, fills us in on the details of their romance by hitting us with a number of vignettes seen through flashbacks while also telling us what is presently going down.

We learn that Shirin teaches at an after-school program and has failed to tell her caring traditional Iranian family that she's bisexual. That she relates best with her animated grungy friend Crystal (Halley Feiffer), has a bitter relationship with her square soon-to-be married brother (Arian Moayed), and has no idea how to act with her concerned parents. They dote on her brother and are puzzled by their daughter's strange behavior.

After the break-up, Shirin moves in with strangers, pretentious artists, into a dumpy Bushwick apartment. This gives her the opportunity to follow an aimless hipster path of smoking weed, hanging out with the untalented folk singers and conceptual artists, and going on absurd OkCupid dates. She's trying to pick up the pieces of her life after moving on from the dull Maxine, someone who we see is not the right one for her even if she can't see it.

The film is comparable to Woody Allen's Annie Hall and Lena Dunham’s Girls, because of its city setting, one-liners and the protagonist's difficult search for making a love connection. Though the pic is as flawed as its main character, it's still a solid film offering amusing glimpses on how to approach maturity in the modern world by a misfit.

Ms. Akhavan shows promise as an assured director, a talented writer and an interesting actress. It looks as if she may have bright future in films.

REVIEWED ON 1/1/2016       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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