This film had a lot of good things to say about social justice and the queer community, but another element of it that interested me was its depiction of modern dating culture. Shirin has multiple romantic and sexual escapades in the film all encapsulate the hang-ups and complications our generation is confronting that most before us did not.
I’m not trying to say, “oh, millennials are awful and shameful, and we’re an evolutionary dead-end” etc. etc. Confronted with selfie cameras and Tinder, our grandparents’ generation would have probably been way more of a train-wreck. But one has to admit that technology and (relative) sexual liberation have lead us to a place where there isn’t a clear road map.
Shirin seems equally bewildered. Without a steady relationship, she bounces between encounters without any real aim or even satisfaction. After having sex with a man she meets on Tinder she only seems to feel uncomfortable; her attempted threesome ends in almost panicked flight; her relationship with an archetypal stone-faced Brooklynite only seems to frustrate her more. These events point towards a question I think many of us have asked ourselves as we transition into supposed adulthood: If you can do anything you want, how are you supposed to figure out what you actually want?
Shirin is clear about wanting Maxine back, but in lieu of that, she tries to find a suitable substitute by sampling a bit of everything. It’s something anyone could do in this new age where we aren’t required to follow the model of “chaste” dating > stable monogamous relationship > marriage with children. But when none of it pans out, both Shirin and the audience are left to wonder what, if anything, these brief connections meant – and whether they actually offered her any solace or healing.
- Do you think playing the dating field helped Shirin get over Maxine?
- What do you think Akhavan wants us to take from these encounters? Is she celebrating Shirin’s freedom, or bemoaning her confusion and aimlessness?