Scott Adsit

‘Appropriate Behavior’ is a feature debut any experienced director would be proud to have made

Shirin’s myriad interactions — with her parents, her brother, her friends, her co-workers, the young children she teaches “filmmaking” to, the random people she hooks up with — all feel convincing. That authenticity is sharpened rather than diluted by the sometimes heightened situations they find themselves in (a cartoonish square-off between two different filmmaking classes, smoking pot in public and losing track of a child). Though given fleeting screen time, they’re all human beings, fleshed out by the screenplay and the talents of the actors. And they all orbit around Akhavan’s often sympathetic, often cringe-inducing (sometimes simultaneously) lead. Trying to suss out identity issues may be shopworn indie film material, but not when delivered through a voice that hasn’t been given enough time to speak in cinema.

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