Watching a character wrestle with who they are is about as common a cinematic occurrence at the Sundance Film Festival as it gets. One of the stories that’s easiest to tell on a budget is a character study. So, you take them in, hoping for either something new or some kind of insight into the cast or filmmaker. You don’t always get it, either, but when you do, you feel it right in your heart. Am I OK? is 100% one of those good ones, however, lighting up Sundance 2022. While it doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel, it tells its tale with good humor, intelligence, and a ton of warmth.
Am I Ok? comes in part from comedian turned filmmaker Tig Notaro. While not an overt laugh riot, the comedy here is really sharply tuned, allowing Notaro and her cohorts to explore deeply personal subject matter. Avoiding cliches, it manages to be a mostly fun and almost always heartwarming cinematic journey.
Lucy (Dakota Johnson) and Jane (Sonoya Mizuno) have been best friends their entire lives. Not only are they incredibly close, they finish each other’s food orders. It’s that kind of friendship. Jane is a Type A personality, while Lucy is a bit more of a wallflower. Two major developments in each of their lives will not only test their relationship, but recalibrate them as human beings.
At the same time as Lucy begins to wonder and explore the possibility that she’s gay, Jane comes out to say she and her boyfriend Danny (Jermaine Fowler) are moving to London for her job. This puts Lucy on her path somewhat alone, even as Jane encourages her to explore a potential fling with co-worker Brittany (Kiersey Clemons). The former is embarking on a huge life change, as the latter plans to embark on her own new journey, testing each other in new ways. Can their friendship survive?
Dakota Johnson is having a hell of a Sundance. Between this and Cha Cha Real Smooth, she’s never been this charming. Her chemistry with Sonoya Mizuno is terrific, instantly making you believe in their friendship. Johnson is at her best, but don’t sleep on Mizuno, who’s excellent here as well. These two performances shine bright. Kiersey Clemons is adorable, if under-utilized, while Jermaine Fowler has almost nothing to do. Notaro herself has a cameo, while the supporting cast includes Molly Gordon, Sean Hayes, and more.
Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne (real life partners) co-direct a script by Lauren Pomerantz, all of whom are aces. Allynne and Notaro don’t direct with a ton of style, but they pace it all very well, allowing the characters to shine. Pomerantz’s screenplay is perfectly matched with their sensibilities, with the final results in Am I Ok? speaking for themselves.
Am I Ok? has more than its fair share of heart and humor, making it easy to recommend. This sort of movie has played at Sundance before, to be sure, but it rarely comes off as authentic and winning as it does here. Both Dakota Johnson fans and Tig Notaro fans will find a ton to like here. It’s my final review of the festival and takes us out on a higher note.