Desiree Akhavan, whose film Appropriate Behavior opens this weekend, recently revisited an embarrassing email written in the “worst of [her] 20s.” She had just finished undergrad at Smith College and had gotten a job as a PA on an independent film, but when she got the script she learned it was a “shit version of American Pie.” So she quit with an email explaining why she couldn’t be a part of the project.
Though she now admits to being more ashamed of herself than angry at the filmmakers who wrote her nasty emails in response, she told EW she does, however, have faith in what she wrote in that email. “Oh, it’s so douchey. But it’s true: What’s the point of making an independent film unless you are trying something different?” she said. “There’s no use of using people’s time and money and energy to do something if you’re going to replicate a format that we’ve all seen before. … I really wanted to make something that I hadn’t seen before.”
Though Appropriate Behavior takes place mostly in the Brooklyn of New York Times style section pieces, it isn’t something most viewers are likely to have seen before. The movie follows a heartsick Shirin (Akhavan, who also wrote and directed the film), a bisexual Iranian-American, in the aftermath of a breakup. Throughout the film, Shirin flashes back to memories of better (and also not-so-great) days with her girlfriend Maxine, whose frustration over Shirin’s resistance to come out to her traditional parents contributes to the end of their relationship. Since the film’s premiere at Sundance, Akhavan has been a talent to watch, and she’ll gain greater exposure on Girls this Sunday when she appears as one of Hannah’s fellow MFA students at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Below, watch an exclusive clip from Appropriate Behavior, in which Shirin and Maxine get high, and read our chat with Akhavan below.