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am i ok
Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno appear in <i>AM I OK?</i> by Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by James Clark.

Movie Reviews

[Sundance ’22] ‘ Am I Okay?’ review: An Authentic, Hilarious Portrait of Female Friendship

Brilliant and funny.

“Am I ok?” That is what best friends are for – to answer that question. We’re all out in the world, trapped in our heads, doing the best that we can. It’s like we’re just driving along in our brain-cars watching the flow of traffic move around us, and we see the other drivers reacting to us, but we don’t know why. A best friend is someone you can invite into the passenger seat so they can tell you, “you’re driving ten miles below the speed limit. That is why everyone is looking at you like that as they pass you.” 

Jane (Sonoya Mizuno) and Lucy (Dakota Johnson) have been besties since high school and even went to art school together, but now that they have entered their thirties, one of them has clearly outpaced the other. Jane has the grown-up job and a devoted boyfriend, while Lucy’s career and love life have stalled. Being a good friend, Jane tries to be constructive, like, ‘how about Ben (Whitmer Thomas)? He’s gotta be into you if he’s helping you install shelving;’ Or, ‘what about your paintings? If you painted more, then you’d be a painter rather than a spa receptionist.’ But Lucy cringes at discussing anything more personal than, ‘doesn’t this picture of cheese look like my old dog, Fritz?’ 

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That is until Jane tells Lucy she’s taken a promotion and will be moving back to England. Lucy takes the news pretty hard, and after too much tequila and crying, she makes her first intimate confession to her closest confidant. She has a crush on Brittany (Kiersey Clemons) at work, and Brittany has been sending signals that maybe… Lucy is mortified that she’s waited until she was thirty-two to resolve what everyone else has ironed out before they hit double digits. But Jane is determined to get Lucy out of the closet and into some “vag-ice cream” before she goes across the pond.

Am I Ok? having a Sundance Film Festival premiere has strong full-circle vibes for directors Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne. They had their meet-cute playing a couple in In A World which had its Sundance premiere in 2013. Then, two years later, they were back at Sundance as the subjects of the documentary Tig which chronicled an important chapter in their romance. Now, nine years later, they are still happily married, have twin boys, and have co-directed this brilliant, funny film written by Lauren Pomerantz about female friendship and how there is no deadline to coming of age. 

Pomerantz’s pert, zingy dialogue along with Johnson and Mizuno’s clicky chemistry sell the authenticity of Lucy and Jane’s relationship. Johnson conveys Lucy’s wry wit and staticky aversion to intimacy while never sacrificing her likability. Her closed posture, darting eye contact, and sharp comedic timing all barb her childish deflections. And Mizuno’s well-intentioned, bossy-magoo energy is never cloying. Their shared screen time buzzes with relatability. You can see how their friendship cruised along like this, with Jane in the driver’s seat showing Lucy how it’s done.

Am I Ok? has a sunny, self-deprecating L.A.-ness from the passive-aggressive hiking to the ironically spiritual hot yoga. Notaro even lends her signature deadpan delivery to the silver-maned bohemian leader of a hammock retreat. My only criticism of the film is that everyone in the movie looks too good. It’s supposed to be about two thirty-somethings going through a rocky transition in their lives, and everybody is the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen in the most flattering light possible. The bright, crispness of the cinematography, the clean curation of the set design, and even, the perfectly parallel fold in Lucy’s new black beanie feels antithetical to the theme.

More than a coming-out and coming-of-age story, Am I Ok? is a loving, hilarious portrait of the sparky volatility of female friendship. Letting someone in the passenger seat of your brain-car is a vulnerable thing. They learn everything about you – where you go, your route to get there, your drive-through order, whether you vacuum or not – and for Lucy, it just felt safer to let Jane drive. Yet, even when Jane and Lucy struggle to connect, their love for each other always feels earnest and aspirational. The drama of Am I Ok? teeters on the stakes of Jane and Lucy maintaining their friendship, and it’s impossible not to be swept up in their romance.

The Sundance Film Festival is online January 20- January 30. Tickets can be purchased and a full lineup can be found here.

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