Appropriate Behaviour (15) Close-Up Film Review



Dir. Desiree Akhavan, US, 2014, 90 mins

Cast: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer

If you like Girls, you’ll love this. Desiree Akhavan’s debut feature has a less baroque approach to characters and situations than Lena Dunham’s HBO series but is much funnier. Shirin’s cultivated gaucheness blends extremely well with the simplicity of the filming and the editing.

Shirin (Akhavan) is a bolshy, smart, self-conscious, Persian, bi-sexual New Yorker. Her posh family doesn’t know she has a girlfriend and the girlfriend Maxine (Henderson), can’t understand why she doesn’t tell them.

Shirin is out of a job and soon out of love too. As she looks back over the story of her affair with both Maxine and the big city, she embarks on a series of pansexual escapades which might just give her the perspective she needs to put things right.

This is indie emoting with a big sense of fun: observational, character-based humour and quips – and it’s all really funny: Dunham returning to the Woody Allen mothership with a Middle Eastern émigré slant. Standout sequences include a scene with a lingerie saleswoman, a sexual role play gag about tax auditors and a fart joke featuring six-year-old boys.

Akhavan has said she wanted to explore her own personal dilemma without classic film clichés. As she sums it up, nicely: “I wanted to make a film which happened to be about a gay Iranian, but didn’t feel like taking your medicine.”

I can safely say that I haven‘t giggled so often during a film for ages. And felt sophisticated about getting the ‘young people’s’ jokes too. Without a doubt, Appropriate Behaviour is funnier than Girls. Still, it’s no surprise that Akhavan has ended up in Season Four of Girls. Did I mention Girls yet?

Review by Colin Dibben