The heroine of "Shirin in Love" is pretty, charming and klutzy. The romantic comedy about the young Iranian-American has glimmers of all those qualities too, but klutziness would have to be first on the list.
Played by "Homeland's" Nazanin Boniadi, Shirin is a well-educated but underemployed resident of Tehrangeles, the Iranian-ex-pat community of Los Angeles. Her principal vocation is writing book reviews for BH Style, a Beverly Hills magazine run by the shallow, domineering Maryam (Anita Khalatbari), who happens to be Shirin's mother.
A law school graduate, Shirin could be doing more with her life. But she's just hanging around, awaiting her marriage to Mike (Maz Jobrani), an Iranian-American plastic surgeon. Family friends suggest that Shirin will soon have lots of babies, although her own parents stopped at one, a wise choice considering how much time they spend on their grown but still living-at-home daughter.
There are, of course, complications. Shirin gets drunk at a party and passes out in a car driven by William (Riley Smith), an amiable Northern California lighthouse keeper whose presence at the Beverly Hills bash is never explained. He puts Shirin to bed alone but can't stop thinking about her.
Then there's the matter of Rachel (Amy Madigan), a reclusive novelist who's one of Shirin's literary heroes. Rachel never grants interviews, but Maryam sends Shirin to get one anyway. Soon the crusty writer and her uninvited guest are best pals, and their coziness is barely ruffled by the arrival of Rachel's son. He is, of course, William.
Although Boniadi makes Shirin nearly as likable as she's supposed to be, writer-director Ramin Niami's movie is crudely contrived and slackly edited. The movie's first hour lurches from one absurd setup to the next, although everything else that happens seems almost plausible when compared with the preposterous sequence in which William deals with the unconscious Shirin.
But a funny thing happens in the last act of this mostly unfunny comedy: It gets better. Not, to be sure, any less predictable. Rom-com veterans know what has to happen when a woman is about to marry the wrong guy and that it will happen only after the bride has already donned her wedding gown.
Still, the movie is lighter on its feet during the climactic dash away from bachelor No. 1 and toward bachelor No. 2. But by then, only those who are truly in love with Shirin will care who catches her during her final emotional pratfall.
"Shirin in Love" - 1.5 stars
No MPAA rating (alcohol and cigarette use)
Running time: 1:45; in English and Persian with English subtitles
Opens: Friday at the AMC South Barrington 30, AMC Streets of Woodfield and AMC WoodridgeCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun