‘Am I OK?’ Movie Review [Sundance 2022]: Dakota Johnson’s Self-Discovery Rom-Com Is Too Familiar
Am I OK? is a pleasant romantic comedy that sticks a bit too close to the genre rules. Stephanie Allynne and Tig Notaro direct a screenplay written by Lauren Pomerantz. Am I OK? has a sentimental side that works tonally, although it doesn’t stand out from the pack narratively.
‘Am I OK?’ sees Dakota Johnson’s Lucy discovering her sexuality
Lucy (Dakota Johnson) and Jane (Sonoya Mizuno) are longtime best friends. They know everything about each other, except for one thing. Jane is trying to convince Lucy to date men, but she secretly believes that she likes women. Lucy has a crush on her co-worker, Brittany (Kiersey Clemons), and is curious to see where the relationship could go.
Meanwhile, Jane is getting a huge job promotion. However, it requires her to move to London to open up a new office. Her friendship with Lucy is put to the test, as they face living in completely different parts of the world. Lucy has a journey ahead of her that she’s not so sure that she’s ready to face.
Stephanie Allynne and Tig Notaro’s feature film sits between self-discovery and friendship
Am I OK? puts friendship at its center. Pomerantz’s screenplay explores the ways that friendships evolve over time. Jane is also friends with co-worker Kat (Molly Gordon), who seems to consistently get in the way of Jane’s friendship with Lucy. They navigate life’s problems together and always try to have each other’s backs.
The other piece of Am I OK? is the concept of self-discovery. Lucy is insecure about the reasons why she can’t seem to get herself to date men. She ultimately discovers that she may not be straight and fears those feelings. However, Am I OK? touches on that journey in a sincere way that never feels exploitative or untrue to the character. The sexual spectrum isn’t typically explored in film in this way.
Pomerantz’s screenplay puts characters first. Jane and Lucy’s friendship is at the risk of falling apart and Am I OK? switches back and forth between their narratives. Their troubles are vastly different, although the root of uncertainty and self-doubt looms in both of their stories. The film successfully gives audiences a reason to care about their passage through life.
‘Am I OK?’ is a predictable, but sweet rom-com
The biggest strength of Am I OK? lies in the chemistry between Johnson and Mizuno. These performances aren’t anything out of the realm of what audiences expect from a rom-com, but their friendship radiates off the screen with charm in spades. They always come across as genuine, making their stories worthwhile.
However, Am I OK? plays according to the rom-com rulebook. It doesn’t take any chances or think outside of the box. The screenplay takes a few shots at comedy, but the jokes don’t land. Allynne and Notaro’s direction doesn’t add much humor either. Notaro has a fun, yet brief cameo, but the film puts too much emphasis on a story audiences have already seen before without additional nuance.
Am I OK? has plenty of endearing qualities. It’s wonderful seeing an adult’s coming-of-age story that doesn’t judge its lead for late discoveries but celebrates them. Johnson and Mizuno elevate their characters in charming ways. However, Pomerantz’s screenplay is a bit thin and doesn’t give enough for the characters to do. Am I OK? is well-intentioned, but doesn’t dig much under the surface level.