Sundance 2022: Friendship Comedy 'Am I OK?' with Dakota Johnson
by Alex Billington
January 26, 2022
This is the story of Lucy and Jane – two friends who have always been best friends. This is the story of two women who finally realize it's time to grow up and figure themselves out on their own. Am I OK? is a new buddy comedy made by actors / lovers / partners Stephanie Allynne & Tig Notaro, both making their feature directorial debut. In addition to making a film about friendship and how important that is, this film is meant as a guide for young women who are struggling to come to grips with a realization that they might be lesbian or bisexual or queer or whatever. The film is about a woman who, at age 32, realizes she has never dealt with the feelings deep inside her telling her she might not be straight. But instead of encountering hate or other trouble, Notaro & Allynne made a film that offers support and understanding. It's a compassionate comedy that will make you laugh and smile, and by the end you'll feel much better. No matter who you are.
The title Am I OK? is a reference to a line in the film, when Lucy breaks down and starts to wonder if there's something wrong with her. She's wondering if she's "okay" because she is so late to come to this realization that she's not straight, and she's afraid of telling anyone, and she's afraid others will not like her anymore and think she's terrible. But is she okay? Of course she is!! That's what this film is meant for. It's a reminder that YES, you definitely are okay no matter who you are attracted to, no matter what feelings you have deep inside of you, no matter how you feel like you to express yourself and your sexual identity. All of this is okay. And most often, good friends help us through these kind of situations and with these kind of debilitating fears. But the film is also a reminder it's totally normal and totally okay to have these concerns and to work through them in your own way, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. That's nothing to be afraid of.
Most of the film focuses on the cute friendship between the 30-something ladies Lucy and Jane, played by Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno (respectively). The screenplay is written by Lauren Pomerantz and it's mainly a buddy comedy. It never really tries to be any more complex or thought-provoking than it needs to be; it's ultimately a more mainstream laugh-out-loud comedy rather than anything more intricate or intellectual. There's a few excruciatingly dumb scenes that pop up in the second half, one of them involving a hammock retreat, which almost ruined everything else nice about the story. It's a lightweight look at the challenging process of coming out, but presented in an entirely new way. The film is so charming and happy and generous and fun. A lovely little feel good film that is meant to make anyone watching feel better about themselves and their own dilemmas in life, even if they're not the exact same as what Lucy is going through.
This adorable buddy comedy about the sexual awakening of a 32 year old is the kind of uplifting, supportive, welcome-you-with-open-arms filmmaking we always need more of. There's always more space for these kind of films. It has the potential to make a big difference in someone's life, even if they don't recognize it at first, the unconditional understanding the film exudes is so warm and comforting, due in large part to Notaro & Allynne's warmth. We can all learn something from this film, we can all work on being more compassionate.