Desiree Akhavan's "Appropriate Behavior" opens in the shadow of "Girls," as does any work chronicling the travails of life in gentrified millennial Brooklyn these days.

That's only amplified by the fact that Akhavan is currently on the HBO show.

But don't be fooled: this is very much its own distinct piece of work, propelled by the vision of its writer-director-star who first garnered attention for her webseries "The Slope."

Here, she shows off an eye for deadpan cosmopolitan absurdities and the authentic desperation of constantly striving for unattainable happiness.

Akhavan plays Shirin, a Persian-American twenty-something trying to find her professional way in an unforgiving city while getting over her ex-girlfriend (Rebecca Henderson) and jibing her bisexuality with her parents' old-school values.

The movie is funny and truthful, equipped with a keen evocation of the very specific urban pressures that put Shirin in a rather desperate place. "Appropriate Behavior" is a true multicultural comedy, equally at home in its hipster Brooklyn and Iranian immigrant settings, taking a loving and scornful look at both.

It's no easy feat to carve something original out of such clichéd territory; Akhavan manages it, blending the two worlds with a vision that is centered on a strong sense of the ways disparate, clashing worlds so often shape who we are and who we want to be.

3 stars
Directed by Desiree Akhavan
Starring Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Scott Adsit
Unrated