Shirin is struggling to become an ideal Persian daughter, politically correct bisexual and hip young Brooklynite but fails miserably in her attempt at all identities. Being without a cliché to hold onto can be a lonely experience.
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For Shirin, being part of a perfect Persian family isn't easy. Acceptance eludes her from all sides: her family doesn't know she's bisexual, and her ex-girlfriend, Maxine, can't understand why she doesn't tell them. Even the six-year-old boys in her moviemaking class are too ADD to focus on her for more than a second. Following a family announcement of her brother's betrothal to a parentally approved Iranian prize catch, Shirin embarks on a private rebellion involving a series of pansexual escapades, while trying to decipher what went wrong with Maxine.Written by
Sundance Film Festival
There's a certain type of movie that Sundance always selects: quirky comedies about lovable oddballs who are in the middle of a crisis and want everyone to know about it. This is Appropriate Behavior. I will say in its favour that there isn't enough bisexual representation in cinema nor is there enough about American- Iranians. This has both, but at the same time writer director Desiree Akhavan doesn't want to examine either aspect in depth. This is both refreshing because these aspects of lead character Shirin's identity are assured aspects of who she is and aren't part of her crisis, and frustrating because aside from these elements there is nothing that makes this movie stand out in any way from the quirky indie comedies that come out every year from Sundance.
Behavior is about Shirin (played by Akhavan). Recently having broken up with the live-in girlfriend her conservative Persian parents thought was her "roommate" the film plays in pieces as we watch Akhavan try to put her life back together without the woman who defined so much of it. As a bonus we are also treated to flashbacks of the rise and fall of her relationship with her ex. It is... not very exciting.
The film is written with so many pithy one liners you can tell it was written to death. This makes for great screencaps and dialogue you can use as gif sets but as an overarching script with characterization not so much. The narrative is fairly elegantly sliced and diced so that you get just the right amount of mix of past and present but at the same time... Just who cares? This feels directly aimed at a group of lost 20 somethings stumbling their way through life, but as a lost 20 something myself I'm sick of seeing these kind of movies (always set in NYC!) and the individual scenes don't really do anything for me. There are still some aspects that make this movie watchable: a threesome that goes wrong (I'm always partial to sex scenes that are good and by good I mean manage to maintain the flow of the story. So many movies just have all plot and emotion stop to get a few thrusts in. Akhavan understands how to continue to build the narrative using the sex scene). The ending of the film is very cathartic and pitch perfect as well.
How Akhavan manages to nail some of the most difficult aspects of filmmaking while flubbing the middle is beyond me. It gives me hope however that she'll continue to improve.
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