Sundance 2022: Am I OK? Review

Any girl who’s wondered if she’d like to drive a Volvo, or any guy who’d rather drive stick, will fall head over heels in love with Am I Ok?. Anchored by a never-better Dakota Johnson, this film is a refreshing coming-out comedy that shows that it’s never too late to discover yourself. Johnson plays Lucy, a 32-year-old artist moonlighting as a spa secretary. Her long-time BFF Jane (Ex Machina‘s Sonoyo Mizuno) is her polar opposite, but the Yin to her Yang. They know each other’s food orders. (Lucy gets the veggie burger with sweet potato fries; Jane opts for Asian chicken salad.) They get each other’s jokes and finish each other’s sentences. They can have dates for brunch and cocktails in the same day without boring.

However, when Jane lands a promotion, she rocks Jane’s world by revealing that she’s moving to London. Lucy finds the prospect of life without Jane especially terrifying because she kind-of sort-of I-don’t-know-but-maybe has concluded that she’s gay. By now, friends like Jane (who’s straight and happily coupled) have things kind-of sort-of I-don’t-know-but-maybe figured out. Feeling equally scared and stupid, Lucy doesn’t think she can do it alone.


Sisters Are Doing It

Jane, similarly worries about flying solo. Screenwriter Lauren Pomerantz explores the women’s lives in parallel as they gradually break towards perpendicular paths. Jane faces relationship woes when her boyfriend (Jermaine Fowler) is reluctant to uproot his entire life. Faced with the inevitability of leaving Lucy, Jane latches onto a super-extra faux-hippie influencer (Molly Gordon). However, she focuses on other people’s problems instead of her own, a point that even Lucy observes, which causes their inevitable rift.

Without Jane’s help, however, Lucy is as adrift as a schoolboy in search of a clitoris. She has no idea how to approach the dating scene, or even figure out if she’s gay. She does what everyone does and Googles some tests. But algorithm-based quizzes about tacos, Tegan, and Sara only tell so much. Her buxom co-worker, Brittany (Kiersey Clemons), however, throws her obvious Carol vibes in the office. Lucy’s flung out of space by Brittany’s touchy feely advances, but plays along. When one Volvo door closers, another opens.



Embracing the Messy

Directed with an assured hand by partners Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne, Am I OK? leaves a viewer feeling giddy about life and love. The film smartly draws on the wonderful chemistry between Johnson and Mizuno. They’re to Am I Ok? what Thelma is to Louise, or what Frances is to Sophie in Frances Ha. The latter’s tale of female friendship might be the better kin to this Millennial comedy. Sharp and funny, Am I Ok? warmly explores the anxieties of the dating scene and the growing pains of adulthood one can never seem to shake. The film smartly avoids the expected, too, which keeps both storylines sharp. There’s no will-they-or-won’t-they tension here. Lucy and Jane are strictly platonic. They’re sisters, they’re friends, and their bond matters more than a casual fling. But sisters sometimes need to do it for themselves.

Coming out is weird and difficult, but doubly so when one does it later in life. This is something that Am I Ok? really gets in Lucy’s journey. Johnson gives an effervescently funny and richly layered performance that captures the confusing hot mess of emotions Lucy navigates. Feeling freed yet trapped, sexy but shy, hungry yet prudish, her impulses go against all that life has taught her.

Johnson’s radiant performance keeps Am I OK? bubbly and grounded in its soul-searching. Mizuno, meanwhile, is a reassuring rock. Moreover, Jane’s composure speaks to viewers who might think they have to act like they have life figured out. But the friends’ story makes clear: nobody does. The film playfully emphasizes that life is messy and that love is even messier, but that it’s never wise—or fun—to stay clean for the sake of it.


Am I OK? premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.