Sometimes a film need not totally work in order to win you over. Case in point: Appropriate Behavior, which heralds the arrival of a fresh talent in the form of multi-hyphenate Desiree Akhavan. Reminiscent of Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein’s Lola Versus, starring Greta Gerwig, Appropriate Behavior will draw some barbs as just another single-girl-in-the-city comedy, but it puts a wry spin on gender politics and Persian-American assimilation. Akhavan stars as Shirin, a closeted bisexual Iranian-American who, fresh off a breakup with Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), stumbles through some dubious personal decisions and gets roped into teaching a Park Slope film class for unruly 5-year-olds. As a cogent whole, Appropriate Behavior can’t quite decide what story it wants to tell. It jumps back and forth in time, which is fine, but is caught between being a story of romantic dissolution, sexual coming out and mordant satire. Still, it crackles scene to scene, with warped meet-cutes (“I find your anger incredibly sexy—I hate so many things, too”) and other off-kilter delights. Akhavan has an observant sense of humor and a great touch with dialogue. Part Sarah Silverman, part Molly Shannon, she’s equally at home with garrulousness and deadpan awkwardness.
Director: Desiree Akhavan
Writer: Desiree Akhavan
Starring: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer, Scott Adsit, Anh Duong, Arian Moayed
Production Details: Parkville Pictures, 82 minutes