“Appropriate Behavior” Is Fresh, Authentic, Features a Bisexual Persian Character

One fine day, Robin, Hannah, Alley, and KaeLyn got together via our laptops, across multiple timezones, to dish about Appropriate Behavior, Desiree Akhavan‘s 2014 breakout feature film. You know, that movie everyone is talking about — including us. In lieu of a more official movie review, here are our uncensored (mildly edited for typos and brevity) thoughts on the movie everyone in the queer lady-loving community and indie film universe is buzzing about.

It’s off of the film fest circuit finally but may be screened at an indie theatre near you. It’s also available to stream on iTunes and Amazon instant video.


Robin: Here! Just ordered an iced tea and a giant slab of banana bread from this kinky cafe and I’m READY.

KaeLyn: What is a kinky cafe?

Robin: It’s a cafe that is also kink friendly!

KaeLyn: Like you can practice kink while you have a latte?

Robin: Yup.

KaeLyn: It is like a cat cafe but with kink?

Robin: Yuuuup.

Literally Robin's life right now. (via shutterstock)

Literally Robin’s life right now. (via shutterstock)

Alley: Wow, we don’t even have that in Portland…

KaeLyn: I feel like the kink cafe would be in Appropriate Behavior.

Robin: It TOTALLY WOULD
You have the option of taking your (or your sub’s) coffee in a dog bowl. It’s that kind of place that I think Appropriate Behavior would have featured.

KaeLyn: Are you drinking out of a doggie bowl?
I’m so distracted by your kink cafe.
I wish we were all at the kink cafe.

Alley: Sounds like the right place to discuss Appropriate Behavior.

KaeLyn: So let’s start with this: Describe your overall reaction to Appropriate Behavior in one sentence.

Hannah: “Charming.”

Alley: “I wanted it to be as brilliant as the preview.”

Hannah: Oh, one sentence.
Haha I thought you said one word.

KaeLyn: Haha I guess that can be a sentence, but you’re welcome to change your answer.

Hannah: So I gave like one of those theatrical preview pullout quotes, “CHARMING.”

appropriate behavior charming

Robin: “It feels true to a queer scene that I would never be a part of, but in an endearing way.”

KaeLyn: “I felt like I was watching a slightly better and queer version of Girls.”

KaeLyn: OK, fantastic. LOL.
What were your favorite parts? What did you react to?

I was really pleased to see a narrative with a bisexual WOC character front and center. I feel like there are so few movies for queer audiences with bi leads. We’re always the sidekick character. Or the “will she or won’t she date the guy/woman” character.

Alley: Yeah I thought Shirin was a very likeable and nuanced character. Much more so than anyone on Girls.

Robin: Yeah I really liked how casually the film treated Shirin’s experiences.

KaeLyn: Yes, and Shirin was just like, “I’m bi. That’s it.” There was no need to discuss her sexuality deeply or for it to evolve or whatever the typical tropes for bi characters are. It was more about her as a three-dimensional person… with all her flaws.

Robin: Oh yeah, I really really liked how a lot of the development isn’t like, Shirin figuring her sexuality or identity out, it’s about her flaws in trying to communicate/connect with/unhook from people. Like that’s what I got from it.

KaeLyn: On what Alley said about her being a nuanced character, I actually found her kind of annoying. Sweet, but annoying. Which is very real. I feel like that about a lot of people IRL. I’m a little older than Shirin and the other characters, so I found some of her plight a little hard to relate to, but I enjoyed it anyway. If that makes sense.

Alley: Yeah she was occasionally annoying but in a way I can relate with so it made her a little less so. Although I am also older…

Other favorite parts were really specific quotes like:

“You’re ruining my birthday.”

“You’re ruining my 20’s.”

I hate this birthday party. I hate all these stupid rainbows. I hate your underwear. And I hate your face.

You’re ruining my underwear.

KaeLyn: Haha, Alley. Yes! The writing was so good throughout.

Alley: But this one was my real fav:

CRYSTAL: No, you know, there are people in this world who go on first dates that are perfectly great, and then they wait a while before they engage in sexual contact.

SHIRIN: That’s disgusting.

CRYSTAL: I know. I think it all happens outside of New York.

Robin: What was the line she said when she & Maxine were at her family thing?

“I’m your exotic experience!”

KaeLyn: I saw it in a theatre and I often felt like I was the only one laughing. Like the humor was so dry, but it was so good.

Hannah: Can we talk about the rubber outfit guy? What was that about?

Robin: He had empty eyes.

Alley: He was oddly sweet?

Robin: Ahahaha!

Hannah: Oh, he kind of gave me the creeps.

Robin: Oh, he was kind of sweet and I definitely felt for him. But also, empty eyes.

appropriate behavior threesome empty eyes creepy

Alley: Ugh, I didn’t have a chance to rewatch and I watched it initially in January so I am having trouble remembering specifically.

Hannah: She was totally an asshole to him though.

Robin: Yeah!

Hannah: In a way I related to.

Alley: But the girlfriend was the mean one, is what I’m remembering.

Hannah: Well he did kick her out after her failed attempt to kiss him. It was sort of mutual assholery all around.

Alley: Worst threesome ever
Well not ever but…

Hannah: Yeah, I was gonna say. I’ve had worse.

Alley: Me too…
Unfortunately

KaeLyn: Hahahaha
I have only had good experiences, I guess

Alley: Like the opposite of Stef’s amazing musical story, which is officially my favorite threesome story ever.

KaeLyn: I loved that scene because they told so much through body language. There was very little talking.

Hannah: Yes!

KaeLyn: But you knew exactly what they were all thinking.

Robin: Yes!

Hannah: I love that.

KaeLyn: And that’s so true to sex IRL. Like, we should talk about what we want and what we’re doing. Oh god, we should do that, but so many people just fumble through it.

Hannah: It just says so much about the actors and the directors and the editors all working so well together.

Alley: Agreed. It was a very well done scene even if it was uncomfortable. I mean that was on purpose and clearly came through.

KaeLyn: It was SO uncomfortable.

Hannah: Ugh when she kisses him on the shoulder!
I wanted to become a puddle

KaeLyn: I thought a lot of Shirin’s narrative was about drifting, feeling surrounded by people, but always alone. And this was such a great example of that.

"I think I have to poop."

I think I have to poop.

Alley: That’s an interesting point and kind of reflects the timeline.

Hannah: I really like that.

KaeLyn: Like she is just so hungry for connection.

Alley: Which I wasn’t sure I liked because it seemed so opposite of what I expected from the trailer, but hearing your thoughts kind of makes me think it worked.

Hannah: I don’t think it directly relates to the bisexual narrative, but it does reflect a sense of outsiderness.

KaeLyn: And after losing Maxine, she doesn’t know how to plug in but she keeps grasping at it.

Robin: Mmmn, I agree. But also can we talk about Maxine?

KaeLyn: I think it does directly relate to the bisexual narrative.

Hannah: Or I guess that it could stand alone? But also strengthens the bisexual narrative? Sorry my head is full of mucous.

KaeLyn: There are usually those stereotypical narratives about bisexuals we chatted about earlier. So there is no “bisexual path” to follow. So how does a real life bisexual navigate the world? Shirin is mired in a world of “otherness.” She’s got her Persian family and her white ex-girlfriend and being stuck in her mid-20’s somewhere between that lawyer she goes on a date with and the idiots she also tries to date that are beneath her. That’s the whole movie, right? Like where can she fit in?

Hannah: Yeah, we’re agreeing, right KaeLyn?

KaeLyn: Yes, we’re totally agreeing. I’m just writing too much. LOL
Sorry, Robin! Yes, let’s talk about Maxine!

Robin: Y’all, I am gonna be real. Shirin & Maxine’s entire relationship didn’t resonate with me. I can’t tell if that’s the intent.

KaeLyn: I felt the same. Say more. What about it for you?

Robin: The thing that comes most strongly to mind is when they get high together and they say their “I love you’s.” But it felt… unearned? Like a shortcut to an emotional payoff.

KaeLyn: OMG Refresh my memory. I watched it in October and I’m blanking on this scene.

Robin: I think it was a flashback that starts with Shirin waiting at the window while Maxine picks up weed

Alley: Yeah, I think that was one of the scenes that started my “backwards” feeling of the narrative.

Robin: And then they smoke and Shirin’s like, “We’re the same kind of stoned person,” and that becomes a moment.

Hannah: Ahahaha

KaeLyn: YES. I remember now.

Alley: Agreed, it was kind of unearned.

Robin: And I couldn’t tell if it was meant to show how… specious their relationship was? Or I was just being an Old Person and thinking “You’re STONED, do you even KNOW WHAT LOVE IS?!”

OMG we're so high though. Love you bae.

OMG I DON’T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS AND ALSO I REALLY WANT A PIZZA BAGEL.

Hannah: Okay, so maybe this is just because I don’t remember how the scene hit me in the moment, but I feel like it was deliberate. Sort of a commentary on the selective memory we have about our relationships? Like maybe she was even looking back on that moment and thinking, “I was stoned. I don’t even know what love is”?

KaeLyn: That’s an interesting way to think about it, Hannah.

Robin: I dunno, for something that ostensibly kickstarts the narrative of the movie, the relationship felt thin to me.

Alley: Yeah, I can’t say I ever really liked Maxine.

KaeLyn: Here’s a question: did you think the movie was about the relationship with Maxine? I didn’t.

Hannah: No, not at all. Though I did have empathy for Maxine at points.

Alley: Not sure what exactly it was trying to say beyond being funny that they first met/commiserated over hating everything — like hating things is such the cool hipster thing to do…that they hate.

KaeLyn: Yeah, Maxine was just as immature as Shirin. She was more patronizing, though. I felt like Maxine felt Shirin was beneath her intellectually and socially.

Robin: Agree.

Alley: KaeLyn, no, you’re right. It wasn’t just about that relationship for sure. It was about Shirin finding her way in the world. Which she sort of does by the end and sort of doesn’t, which is pretty true to real life. So I appreciated that.

KaeLyn: Yes, I think the audience I was watching it with was expecting a hipster romantic comedy.

Alley: Yeah, it was better than that for sure. Not that a hipster romantic comedy wouldn’t be fun to watch, but it went deeper.

KaeLyn: Can we talk about what we didn’t like or what didn’t work?

Hannah: I don’t think I took many issues with it. Other than the aforementioned thin relationship, it wasn’t trying to be anything more than what it was.

A little slice of life, of a person just trying to live the life they are meant to live. There was no moral, or high drama. It was just pretty and it felt honest to me.

Robin: I do wish there had been more with her family, but like, that gets into the territory of “I’d have done it differently.”

Ugh. Mom, you're supposed to soak the cuticles first. This is why I never let you do my nails.

Ugh. Mom, you’re supposed to soak the cuticles first. This is why I never let you do my nails.

KaeLyn: I feel like it took a queer filmmaker, writer, actor to pull off that level of authenticity. It felt fresh to me. But I have to say I don’t love it as much as other people seem to. I enjoyed it very much. Does that make sense?

Hannah: Yeah.

Robin: I think I’m with you, KaeLyn.

KaeLyn: Like some people are over the moon about it and I’m like, “That was a really well written, directed, and acted movie with high production value and it felt really authentic and the narrative thread was strong. And it wasn’t my favorite.” And I can’t put my finger on why I’m not more ecstatic about it.

Alley: Me too KaeLyn.

KaeLyn: I can’t even say what I wish was different.

Alley: Like, I can’t pinpoint what could have been better but, like, the trailer was SOOOO good I was a tad disappointed.

KaeLyn: I guess that the one way it is cliche is it’s another story about a queer person with lots of class privilege interacting almost exclusively with other people with high levels of social and economic status. And maybe that made me feel less snuggly about it.

Alley: The class aspect is a good point.

KaeLyn: It’s what I don’t like about Girls. SO “white feminist” framework.

Alley: I was about to say that but didn’t want to keep bringing that up 😉

KaeLyn: Haha.

Alley: That show just reminds me of all the women I went to college with that I loathed.

KaeLyn: Yeah, I think that’s what kept me at an emotional distance from Appropriate Behavior. Everyone was so privileged and really only had that worldview. And I kind of wanted them all to get over themselves.

Alley: It’s that balance of the film making fun of their own privilege but also getting a little mired in it. Tough balance.

KaeLyn: But lawd, there are hundreds of similar movies and books and musicals about “finding yourself” that feature young white men.

Alley: Totally.

KaeLyn: And even if there are problems with that “journey to the self” trope, I’m just so grateful there was a bisexual Persian woman at the center of it this time.

Alley: Appropriate Behavior: Way less annoying than Igby Goes Down.

KaeLyn: HAHAHAHA

Robin: HAAAAA

Hannah: Hehehe

KaeLyn: OK, so wrap up question: Would you recommend it?
And why?

Hannah: Yeah sure.

Robin: I would!

Alley: Absolutely, even if there are some formulaic portions even taking a “quintessential” or supposedly “universal” story and giving it to a bisexual woman of color is worth it and there are some damn funny lines.

KaeLyn: On a scale of 1 (the worst) to 10 (the best), I’m giving it a 10 as a film and a 7.75 on a personal level.

Robin: Yeah, like I wouldn’t be mad if my queer ladies film club wanted to watch it again.

Alley: I fully expect, also, that Desiree Akhavan’s next film will be even better.

KaeLyn: I would watch again.

Alley: I loved The Slope.

KaeLyn: I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next. Appropriate Behavior is definitely putting her on the map.

I am literally winning at everything.

I am literally winning at everything.

Hannah: Also you guys know that Desiree Akhavan was actually on Girls for real, right?
I meant to say that earlier, when you were complaining about Girls.

KaeLyn: Yeah recently right? But I haven’t seen those episodes. I mean, I’ve only seen a few.

Hannah: Yeah it’s brief. She plays pretty much the same person.

KaeLyn: She plays a writer?

Hannah: Yes, she does.

KaeLyn: I have no idea because I don’t watch Girls. Except that one time when I gave it the ol’ three-episode try and it failed.

Hannah: Yeah, I only saw the first couple episodes this season. I could go on about why Marnie is the entire reason the show is terrible but I’d be talking to a wall.

KaeLyn: Haha. Any final thoughts on Appropriate Behavior?

Alley: I would probably give it a similar rating, KaeLyn, but to keep it simple I’ll just give it an 8.

KaeLyn: Hahaha

Robin: I would give it a 7. No, amend: 8.

Robin: Just remember the “I’m your exotic experience” line which is the REALEST MOST AWKWARD THING. I cannot find the exact wording but it really stuck with me.

KaeLyn: That was the best! Ok, I’m bumping it up to an 8.

Alley: Hahaha, I like how we are all groupthink convincing each other to up the rating by 1.

KaeLyn: When I mini-reviewed it on Autostraddle in my film fest recap in October, I gave it this: “Rating: Ten sammies from that new Vegan Pork-Dumpling Grilled Cheese food truck with the hot server.” I stand by that. No, I amend it to include the kinky coffee shop that Robin is at.

Robin: Oh, KaeLyn, here’s the link: Wicked Grounds Kink Cafe & Boutique

Alley: I was just in SF working from coffeeshops. Wish I would have gone there!

KaeLyn: It is so cute and unassuming from the outside. Well, if you don’t know what the leather flag looks like… Ooh, they have pizza bagels!!!

Robin: It’s really like your average coffeeshop until you start looking at the art on the walls.

They have pizza bagels!

They have pizza bagels!

KaeLyn: Oh, so no one is doing kinky things around you IRL? I really feel like would be the best.

Robin: Eh, not yet. And the lil knickknacks for sale. It’s only 3 PM here.

KaeLyn: OK, fine. That’s acceptable. I’m assuming you can only play, right? You can’t actually fuck? That seems unsanitary.

Robin: I mean the bathroom is spacious and there’s only one key…

Alley: Hahahaha

KaeLyn: Ooooh

Robin: Attached to a heavy chain.

KaeLyn: Well that’s fine. I just don’t want lube too close to my coffee.

Alley: Would that be like a Bulletproof Coffee spinoff?

Robin: Yesssss

KaeLyn: Alley!!!

Robin: Oh my god. What would the spinoff be called?

KaeLyn: Frictionproof Coffee? Bullet Coffee and it is served with a bullet vibrator?
I dunno. We need Lizz or Ali on this…


What do ya’ll think? Will you be seeing it? Have you already seen it? How would you rate it and what are your smart and insightful thoughts?

Get to your nearest kink cafe and tell us everything.


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KaeLyn is a 35-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating carbs, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can preorder her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution today if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 173 articles for us.

57 Comments

  1. I enjoyed the Kink Coffee shop talk more than the movie review…it seemed like no one really liked it for lots of different reasons, but you were all very intrigues by kinky coffee.

    Also, the kinky cat is going to give me nightmares.

    • I think we all liked it and think it’s a very excellent addition to the queer girl movie genre. I mean, we rated it like 8/10 or 4/5, so that’s pretty good. It’s worth seeing!

      Also, I imagine the kink cafe is worth seeing, too.

    • I think you are totally right about it being “self-aware when it veered into self-indulgence.” I think that was exactly that point. I don’t think it resonated with me the way that I wanted it to, but maybe if I saw this movie when I was in a similar life place I would feel differently, you know? And we’ve all been there. Every queer person in the world has been in the head space of WHO AM I WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN at some point.

  2. I agree with everything you said, especially KaeLyn. I thought too that it was really well written and acted, everything felt authentic and honest, but I wasn’t satisfied at the end of it. I can’t explain why, and I don’t even think there was anything wrong with it, I just felt like maybe something was missing. Perphaps my expectations were too high. I totally still recommend it though.

    Favourite quotes:
    -“You know I don’t like being in enclosed spaces where I can’t detect any visibly gay people”
    -“I’m gonna lie here and forget what it felt like to be loved”

    • I really liked the ending, itself. It was kind of perfectly imperfect. But yeah, I just didn’t connect the way I’d hoped I would. But I think a lot of people will.

      Love those quotes. So many funny lines! I would watch it again just for the deeply sarcastic one-liners.

  3. I agreed with basically everything that was said. I guess the reason it didn’t stick with me – despite enjoying it so much at the time – is because it really felt like it was nothing new. Sure, it was about a bi, Persian woman where most of these sorts of narratives are about straight white men (and, increasingly, women) but, like you all said, it’s about such a slim subsection of people and all the narratives have the same bittersweet, wry sorta-resolutions after a plot that is all about feeling a little lost. All with fairly similar cinematography in fairly similar parts of a small selection of American cities (principally New York).

    I think the most appropriate (… ohdear) comment of all the comments made was about it being like a better, queerer Girls. That’s exactly, exactly how I felt. And, watching it, I wished that it was a serialised tv show so that I could watch that in place of Girls but, as it isn’t and is – instead – pretty bloody indebted to Girls, it just felt like a nicer remake of something I already knew every part of.

  4. Kind of unrelated to the movie, but I noticed term woc of color was used at least twice in the conversation here. Is that term she also uses? I ask because, I too am Persian/Iranian & have asked this question at least once here before. The answer’s never really clear. Ethnically we are white(Indo-Aryan if you want to be exact), and come in different looks and skin tones(depending on region). Some of us look white(anywhere from European looking to Slavic looking) to darker skinned(typical middle eastern looking to Hindu looking). I look Slavic while I have family members that look European and others that look as if they came from Pakistan or India. Thank you.

    I am hoping this comes out on Netflix so I can view it as it sounds really interesting.

    • This is a good point, Al. I perhaps should have specifically written “Persian” or “Iranian” instead of WOC while chatting about the film. Desiree Akhavan has said that she is “not white” in interviews, so I know she doesn’t consider her race white, but I don’t know if WOC is a term she’s specifically use.

      It is definitely a confusing issue because Persian people often check “white” on the census, right? But my understanding was that was mainly because the boxes are based on race, not ethnicity, not because Persian people consider themselves white. Then again, I dunno. I’m not Persian. So please someone school me if I am totally off base here.

      I think what is clear is that Persian people face discrimination based on their ethnicity and that there is little visible representation in the media in ways that are affirming. So anyway…I hope I didn’t make a mistake by using WOC. Please please correct me if I did. I’m just glad there is a movie out there by and about a bisexual Persian woman and it’s really, really good!

      I bet it’ll come out on Netflix. You can throw a couple bucks at iTunes or Amazon and watch it right now if you want.

      • For me itddepends on the situation. If white benefits me I will by all means choose it. Some of us even use Persian(I’ve done this) just to confuse people sometimes. Cause there is no Persia really,but there is an Iran.

        It’s very confusing at times. I though in middle school I was Asian because Iran is in Asia. But, a teacher told me I’m white, which confused me at the time cause I didn’t know I was white. Like history books call us white but now we’re mistaken as something else. I don’t know if this makes sense as it’s a little late right now.

        • See I feel that the complicated thing is even though the US Census defines Iranians as white, my family has not benefitted from white privilege in any way, shape, or form due to the color of their skin. Add Islamophobia in the mix and it doesn’t feel like Iranians benefit from white privilege the way some “Caucasian” people do. Somehow I ended up a touch lighter, so I am often mistaken for Hispanic or Italian, so I definitely do benefit from light skinned privilege but am never mistaken for being white. Which is just one of the complexities to the racial make-up of Iranian Americans.

          I also totally thought I was Asian in elementary school and totally checked the Asian race box on my first standardized tests before I was gently corrected. It doesn’t feel right and back in 2010, there was a campaign to get Iranians to mass write “Iranian” in the other box for the US Census. Hopefully the tide will change soon.

        • I think you and your teacher are confusing caucasian for white. White people are considered caucasian but not all caucasians are white if you catch my drift. Also like Dena said below it’s kind of silly to consider Iranians white in the same sense as those with Western European lineage because obviously they aren’t treated the same.

    • People from Pakistan and India can also be light skinned. Iranians don’t have a monopoly on light skin and neither Pakistan or India is in the Middle East. Regardless of what Fox News says.

      Also as a non white woman, I have really begun to hate the term WoC due to tumblr users saying things like POC countries and equating things that happen to black people primarily as issues that affect every non white person ever. Which diminishes the anti blackness other non white people perpetuate. I wish there was a better way of saying not white.

  5. I really liked it, but what I felt most strongly about was hating Maxine. Like with all the fire of hell. I’m not entirely sure why though. Maybe because she had zero respect for Shirin and treated her pretty horribly. I don’t know, I just hated the woman.

    My favorite part was when Shirin was with her best friend in lingerie shop. I just loved the looks between the sales woman and the friend.

  6. The only worthy parts of Igby Goes Down are Susan Saradon but to appreciate them fully you have to have been awake for some previous parts to understand the HBIC WASP mess that is Mimi.
    Otherwise fuck that movie and fuck all those meaningful finding yourself movies with a male lead and the “indulgent” flaky female lead finding herself box.
    Finding yourself is not indulgent or a weakness, it is human and humans come in flavours other than straight male cis middle/upper class WASP.

    Yay movie of different flavour, boo my swirly angry ranty feels.
    Also fuck yeah kink cafe with leather pride flag.

    • The best part of every movie involving Susan Sarandon is Susan Sarandon, but you know…

      I hope you see it! It definitely speaks to the more queer version of the “what is the human condition? what is happiness? what is truth?” movie AND it’s really, really, really funny!

  7. I thought it was really good, and again like Girls but better and queerer. I was also left a bit underwhelmed which I tihnk is just cus nothing really happened..like there was no particular story arc except for her not being mad at her ex anymore.

    That could just be personal preference though, I like action movies so…

    • Yeah, there is no resolution. For me, I actually liked the ending. Because it is exactly where she is at. There is no resolution, no easy answer and I felt like the ending was kind of saying it could go many ways — maybe there is still something there between her and Maxine or maybe not. But she’s gone on this journey as a character and she is coming to terms with just being OK…without having any answers. And that kind of is the answer. You know?

      Anyway, blah blah blah here I go again. I am glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  8. I loved it. I first heard about it from the last autostraddle article that mentioned it and this article reminded me to watch it so I did last night. It’s the type of Indy comedy/ humor I like anyway, and as a half middle eastern queer/bi girl, there def was some things that I could relate to. Wish there were more movies like that.

    • * were

      also I do wish it was longer and had more of a story/better ending, but the scenes were enjoyable to me so it was worth it. I also liked how it was authentic; the 3some scene was so awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s much more realistic than portraying it as super hot haha

      • Thanks for commenting with your thoughts!

        The threesome scene was one of my favorites purely for comedic value and for the way it was shot. It was beautifully awkward and somehow felt so authentic. It totally flipped the “married couple pick up bi girl for threesome” thing on its head!

  9. i am left semi confused about what everyone didnt like about this film. just because i dont really hold that opinion, but id be curious if anyone could flesh out their dislike a bit more. also, i think i saw a comment on something about this movie being transphobic? its been awhile since ive seen the movie, but did anyone else pick up on that at all?

    • I loved this film! And the ending felt sweetly non-ending-y in a way I really enjoyed. I feel like it’s stylistically derivative of lots of other more interesting things than Girls, sort of disappointed to see them compared so consistently.

      Also the character ‘T’ I think is actually a hair model I think I saw her modeling headbands on modcloth.

      I did not love the Slope as much, it felt sort of mean in this way I didn’t understand.

      But Desiree Akhavan was on that radio show Death Sex and Money and it’s very endearing.

    • I liked it! re: transphobic, I can’t really remember either, it’s possible any number of the characters engage in some sloppy gender essentialism that I didn’t catch the first time around? In the way that it is a film about young people not making awesome choices and throwing shit when they fight, etc?

    • I also remember seeing that comment on an AS piece wherre Appropriate Behavior is mentioned and I can’t piece together what it is. I do remember that Shirin says to Maxine when they meet on the steps that she likes “girls like her” who are “manly, but like a lady” or something to that effect. Which is gender essentialist, but I took it more to mean she likes butch/MOC women. I dunno what else and would appreciate someone who has that take on the film giving their opinion more in depth. I prepping for this chat, I even spent some time searching for any written analysis of the film being transphobic, but came up empty.

      I just want to clarify that even though we didn’t give it a 10/10, we all rated it very highly and said it was a film not-to-miss, so sorry if it came across that we didn’t like it. As a film in its own right and especially stylistically, I give it a firm 10. In terms of how well I connected to the film, I give it an 8. Everyone else pretty much agrees. But that’s a high score! That says that we all did like it and enjoyed watching it.

      In the chat, we talk a bit about why we felt we didn’t connect 100% with the character and we get a little into why, but the majority of the feedback was very positive. So I’m sorry if it seems like we didn’t like it. I don’t think that is the case at all.

  10. I have such warm feelings about this movie – it’s interesting to read the comparisons to “Girls,” because it’s very similar to “Tiny Furniture” in that whole “20-something trying to figure out what intimate relationships are about” way…drifting through sex and love situations that float her way and attempting to find her place in all of them while negotiating her familial relationships as well. I may or may not have had similar experiences when I was a 20-something Jewish bi-queer trying to figure out WTF in the big city. I would never want to go through that decade ever again, but now 20 years out (I’m in my early 40s), I just want to scoop up Baby Shirin and just be like, “you’re figuring out now how to make sure you’ll be ok later.”

    Also, it’s a good time to watch this movie because: Happy Nowruz! (The holiday bookends the story.)

    • That’s a good point. Maybe a more true comparison would be to say that there are “shades of inspiration a la Lena Dunham” than just Girls. It’s hard not to make the comparison because Desiree Akhavan has a similar voice and it literally on Girls now.

      However, just because something might draw inspiration from something else doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit and a voice on its own. Many people believe, and I think it’s true, that all work is derivative…not in a legal sense, but in the sense that artists are reacting to the world and in doing so acknowledges the world and past work, even if that is not a conscious decision.

      Anyway, I am so glad you liked it! And I agree that I just wanted to take Shirin and be like, “You are OK,” but she was figuring it out on her own and that’s how it had to be. I think there’s a lot to relate to there for a lot of bi (and queer, but especially bi because how often do we get a film about us and by us) women.

      • “However, just because something might draw inspiration from something else doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit and a voice on its own…”

        Oh totally! I didn’t mean to imply that at all – each movie (each filmmaker) has a really distinctive personal voice. Just similar themes, is all. And I too look forward to more movies by and about bi women. :>

  11. Er, so I just watched this movie and I liked it for the most part, but the transphobic jokes were pretty glaring. There were like 3 specific jokes that focused around “hey trans people are funny because they are trans” and then a bunch of other weird gender essentialist, “non-normative gender is funny” gestures.

    Like, when they say “I love you”, Maxine at first doesn’t say it, she says “I’m thinking of transitioning to male” (or something) and HAHA how cute and sweet she actually was going to say she loved Shirin OF COURSE that wasn’t the big scary thing she wanted to tell her lover.

    Then, at the bar during pride, the (straight?) dude was like “Hey I’m not a Male-to-Female Transexual just so you know” and it’s clearly meant to be funny.

    Also there’s mention of the brother doing a sex-reassingment surgery, that Shirin is super disgusted about.

    That’s more explicit trans jokes than are usually in a movie. And it’s just…why? Why are these meant to be funny? Why would a movie that includes reading Stone Butch Blues as a motif think that jokes about transness would be a good idea?

    On a completely different topic, I think one of my favorite parts was when Shirin side-eyed Maxine’s date being white and doing West African dance (and Maxine bragging about it). I thought it was a really funny moment, that also made very clear the different kinds of privilege the two were coming from. Because Maxine is always the one trying to make these specific social commentaries, and sees Shirin as kind of an apolitical party girl, and then Shirin’s just like “oh white girl, please stop,” and Maxine doesn’t pick up on why that might be an issue.

    • Ugh. Thank you for pointing these out. I saw the movie months ago and couldn’t remember. But yeah, those are pretty glaring. Yuck. And just like…not even a little bit relevant to moving the plot or characters forward. Why? Really just why? I do remember the “I’m transitioning to male” thing now and I remember thinking it was unnecessary and awkward at the time. I don’t remember the other two things you cite, but I’m sure they were in there. And I do remember now having a convo with my sig other after where we were like, “Was that supposed to be tongue-in-cheek? Like was it intentionally un-PC?” and agreeing that, like “ironic racism,” “ironic transphobia” is not a thing. Aw, I wish we’d discussed this in the chat. I genuinely didn’t remember!

  12. I thought the movie was funny but it bothered me that I didn’t feel anything throughout. I liked Shirin OK, but I didn’t care what happened to her. I didn’t like Maxine, but I didn’t particularly hate her. Every character seemed to be based on a type of person instead of a real person.
    Also I thought the guy in the threesome was pretty creepy, for some reason. He did not seem sweet to me at all. I get why she didn’t want to kiss him.

  13. I was wondering why WickedGrounds.com was suddenly getting all this traffic from my favorite queer blog ever.

    This review is delightful. Thanks for the call out!

    Mir from Wicked Grounds

  14. DUDES. I just saw this at the BFI LGBT film festival so this is well timed. Desiree did a really great Q&A afterwards where she:

    a) called Woody Allen out for being a rubbish human being
    b) talked about how she wanted to make a film that was a bit like Annie Hall- like where you know from the beginning that the relationship is doomed but you still follow the characters and kind of root for them anyway?
    c) said she wanted to make films that dispel the myth that if you are a good person dating a good person then you’re happy forever and the relationship will work- that sometimes things stop working not because of cheating or whatever – sometimes you just stop loving each other and that’s okay.
    d) has plans for a book, a bisexual sitcom, and another film in the works!

  15. I just watched this film and I think overall I liked but I have mixed feelings about it.

    I definitely saw a lot of myself in Shirin, especially around the themes of her being torn between what her family expect of her and how she wants to live her life. I had a lot of empathy for how alone she was despite being surrounded by people. The awkward situations she found herself in were really funny and I could totally see myself in those situations and acting like she did. It felt like a lot of what she was doing was a big anti-climax, which seems to be a lot of what happens in your 20s. I think the thing that touched me most was when she came out to her Mum and how her Mum reacted because I know that’s how my Mum would react if/when I come out to her.

    However, the trans references really grated on me and they didn’t seem to be there other than to be “edgy” or to take the piss out of trans people. Especially the line about the genital reassignment surgery, because as far as I was aware colon vaginoplasty is not a commonly used technique, and my first thought was, “Er, was this even researched properly?”. I felt the film would be better without the unnecessary transphobia.

    On the plus side it was really cool to see a queer woman of colour like myself going through things that I have been/will go through. There were some hilarious lines in it and I guess I’ll have to watch the film again to make a mental note of them. Some of them reminded me of April from Parks and Rec sooo much (and I love April). I liked how it dealt with femme and POC invisibility in queer communities. I just wish I had the guts to react in the way that she reacted when Tibet said she thought she was straight!

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