Image from: Appropriate Behaviour (2014)

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Reviewed by Samueldtodd GB / Joined Samueldtodd 2015
Appropriate Behaviour
Appropriate Behaviour
Appropriate Behaviour
USA, 2014, 90 minutes, SD Comedy, LGBT
Accepting our identity can be difficult, for Shirin, a twenty-something, Iranian bisexual living in Brooklyn, it’s harder still; add in traditional Persian parents and a girlfriend who wants nothing to do with you, it becomes nigh on impossible. Still reeling from her breakup, Appropriate Behaviour follows Shirin as she attempts to reconcile her various identities whilst remaining a (at least partially) functioning member of society.

Hysterical at times, heart breaking at others, Appropriate Behaviour assuredly strikes the rarely attainted parity of comedy and drama; a difficult task no doubt, but in her debut feature, writer/director/star Desiree Akhaven, makes it look easy. Telling both the story of her doomed relationship and its aftermath, Appropriate Behaviour is engaging, honest and poignant, even for those such as myself who can’t relate directly to Shirin’s struggle.

It demonstrates that the line between laughter and tears can be a faint one indeed. The opening scene sees Shirin discovering her relationship is over, a sorrowful moment in which she must not only come to terms with losing her partner, but also the dilemma of what one does when they gain full custody of the strap-on dildo.

Appropriate Behaviour might not be overly original, fans of Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture or Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha will be familiar with the drifting twenty-something trying to take charge of their life narrative. But that’s not to say this has nothing to offer, quite the contrary. Akhaven’s allows Shirin to be a real woman; she can be optimistic, reasonable and logical in one scene, then downbeat, unaccommodating and irrational in the next. There’s an authenticity, a believability to her character that demands Appropriate Behaviour and Desiree Akhaven are taken notice of. An absorbing character piece that I'd urge anyone to try.
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