Starring: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer
Director: Desiree Akhavan
Desiree Akhavan is no stranger to the director's chair having created and helmed TV series The Slope, but she is set to make her feature film directorial debut this week with Appropriate Behaviour.
As well as being in the director's chair for Appropriate Behaviour, Akhavan wrote, produced, and stars in the film, which has already been winning over critics and audiences on the festival circuit - where it has been playing extensively over the last twelve months.
Akhavan is a talent both in front of and behind the camera that you really do need to watch out for, as this is one of the most interesting and compelling directorial debuts that I have seen for some time. She really does have a very exciting career ahead of her and I think she is going to deliver some terrific movies with interesting themes over the next few years.
For Shirin (Akhavan), 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.
First and foremost, Akhavan is a wonderful storyteller having penned a script that is moving and witty and has created a character that is grounded in reality and totally relatable to audiences. This is a movie about human relationships, human interaction and acceptance and these themes have been smartly and warmly observed by this writer and director.
Appropriate Behaviour is a coming of age and self-discovery movie, and yet Akhavan has delivered a film that is funky and fresh, and unlike anything else that you will see in this genre this year. However, it is not only behind the camera where Akhavan excels.
Akhavan takes on the central role of Shirin in the film, in what is a real and honest portrayal of a young woman trying to mend her broken heart, accept who she is and find her place and purpose in the world. It is the honesty with which this character is played that makes her seem so real and familiar - this is a woman that could you or someone you know.
While Appropriate Behaviour is packed with some great wit, humour, charm, and warmth, there are also some deeply touching and quite profound moments and ideas that elevate to more than just your average coming of age drama. The themes that are explored in this movie are clearly things that Akhavan holds close to her heart and she explores them with care and respect.
Every year we see a handful of directors breakthrough and make a name for themselves, and Akhavan is one of those directors this year. Appropriate Behaviour is one of the standout indie movies of 2015 so far, and I am excited to see what Akhavan delivers over the next couple of years. While she is a talented actress, I think we are really going to see her thrive as a writer and a director.