Saturday, 21 February 2015


The crude spirit of the First World Problems movie lingers naggingly over Appropriate Behaviour, an intelligent comedy that requires a fair degree of active intelligence in its viewer. Within Desiree Akhavan's threadbare concept, superficially jazzed up by a neo-hipster self-awareness that's already played out, she works with a flair for dialogue and character and just enough genuine nonchalance to keep her philosophical pretensions bearable. That's one of the secrets to making your pet project work - either shielding your audience from the very existence of your delusions of grandeur, or by mitigating their impact by intimating that nothing would work at all without them. Akhavan's delusions are hardly grand, and they're not actually delusions either, but she opts for a strategy closer to the latter. Whether or not one will respond positively to her familiarly wry, quirky style (its familiarity engendered not by Akhavan but by her numerous contemporaries) may depend on the extent to which one has experienced the burgeoning saturation they're inflicting on the American indie comedy film market. She contributes a solid, enjoyable entry into this new canon of creations, one that seems more intent on announcing her proficiency as a filmmaker than on testing her limits, and that's wise for her, if underwhelming for us. Like every funny film, Appropriate Behaviour covers its ass mainly by inducing laughter; Akhavan's humour is blissfully unforced, yet pointed enough to expose the craft behind it. Her next film as writer-director should certainly be an all-out comedy, with as few First World Problems allusions as possible, whether intentional or otherwise.