Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2014: Appropriate Behaviour hits almost all the right notes

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In English and Farsi, with English subtitles.

Easily the best comedy about a bisexual Iranian woman since Argo, Appropriate Behaviour hits almost all the right notes and a few we don’t see coming. Writer-director Desiree Akhavan also stars in this smart feature, turning in a winning performance as Shirin, a recently dumped 20-something Persian-American still hiding in the closet from her family while looking for a little rebound action (and some inner truth) in Brooklyn.

Akhavan’s dry presence holds everything together, even if she’s (rather amusingly) depressed for most of the movie, but it’s the deft presentation of sexual roulette that really impresses. Shirin’s flash date with an activist is a small masterpiece of polite frustration, conveyed through too-long glances and tense propriety. A threesome, meanwhile, ends suddenly on a hard-to-read note. Somebody bungled the politics, we’re not sure why, but we feel Shirin’s hollowness as she exits the scene.

Generic title aside, Appropriate Behaviour is a remarkably confident debut that only trips itself up in one key area: why is Shirin so hung up on uptighty whitey ex Maxine, anyway? 

Appropriate Behaviour screens at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts tonight (August 15) and the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas on Thursday (August 21) at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.

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