Dakota Johnson grapples with her sexuality and the potential loss of her best friend in Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne’s romantic drama.
Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne have quite the history with Sundance Film Festival. The couple met playing love interests in Sundance’s indie darling In a World…, then at the 2015 festival Notaro’s very personal documentary Tig premiered, and now the pair return with their directorial feature debut Am I OK?. A love story about friendship and coming-of-age in your thirties, Notaro and Allynne’s charming film is a sure crowd-pleaser.
Lucy (Dakota Johnson) and Jane (Sonoya Mizuno) – “sisters in a past life” as their LA yoga instructor describes them – are best friends with conflated lives; they know each other’s drinks order by heart, have no qualms in sharing a bathroom, and practically share one wardrobe. However, things are about to change: Jane is offered a promotion that would whisk her, and her easy-going boyfriend (Jermaine Fowler), away to a new office in London and, distraught that her friend is slipping through her fingers, after a few cocktails Lucy decides now is the time to come out to her best friend as a lesbian.
This navigation of self-acceptance in adulthood is aided by Lauren Pomerantz’s loveable script, based on her experience of self-discovery in her thirties, that expertly hits the beats of sensitivity and sincerity in depicting the anxieties of coming out as an adult. The balance between adventurous Jane and the more reserved Lucy is also well-kept but the buddy comedy humour often threatens to throw the film off course. Nevertheless, with a soundtrack infused with St Vincent and Phoebe Bridgers and Notaro with her own comedically timed cameo, it’s hard not to warm to Am I OK?.
“I don’t even know what I am,” cries the 32-year-old, Johnson somehow even makes blubbering beautiful. Johnson and Mizuno share such natural chemistry, effortless in their portrayal of two women who treasure their bond as if it is a precious pendant they wear over their hearts. Lit by an ambient golden glow, the murmured “I love you”s that come during their sleepover are heartbreaking as the realisation of the impending 5,500-mile gap that will be put between them dawns.
Jane becomes a little harder to love as she walks into a lesbian bar like she owns the place and doesn’t see Lucy is still in the rite of passage ‘am I gay?’ quiz stage of self-discovery but Mizuno does well to keep her character rooted. Meanwhile, Lucy’s baby gay apprehension has her umming and ahhing over picking up all the flirtatious hints her masseuse co-worker Brit (Kiersey Clemons) is dropping.
All the while, Am I OK? very much stays in its own comfort zone, the tactile comfortability it radiates promises a prevailing lightness even as it confronts the sudden strain on Lucy and Jane’s friendship. This is an earnest tale of a late bloomer and while more introspective catharsis could have been drawn from this contemplation of friendship and romance, Notaro and Allynne’s debut remains a pleasing watch.
Published 26 Jan 2022
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