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Am I Ok? Is for the Sad, Anxious Lesbian in All of Us

Photograph by Emily Knecht/Max

If you have to ask yourself “am I ok?,” chances are you’re not doing too well. Such is the case with Lucy (Dakota Johnson) in Am I Ok?. She’s thirty-two, a wannabe painter, and the receptionist for a spa in Los Angeles. Lucy’s best friend is Jane (Sonoya Mizuno), and her life couldn’t be more at odds with Lucy’s. Where Lucy is anxious, nervous, and afraid of pursuing her passions, Jane has it all together. She works in marketing and has been offered a promotion and the chance to move to London to open a new office. Lucy is already worried about losing her best friend, but to make matters more overwhelming, she’s also trying to piece together her sexuality. Am I Ok? is a funny, charming, and messy look at growing up and falling in love along the way.

It’s a little difficult to write objectively about Am I Ok? because so many emotions and experiences that Lucy goes through feel as though they were plucked from my own life experience. Coming out as gay, even with a strong support system, is nerve-wracking. Lucy feels a lot of shame because she thinks her sexuality is something that she should’ve figured out years ago. “I’m late,” Lucy repeats over and over again. It’s a feeling that’s hard to shake because so many people do have it figured out when they’re young. Especially now, when queer media is more expansive than it’s been, but there are also plenty of people like Lucy who are discovering themselves in their thirties and beyond. There is no “late,” and Am I Ok? really drives that point home. The only person making Lucy feel bad about this supposed lateness is herself. It’s a hurdle she’s created on her own, she can’t be forced to overcome it. It’s a confidence and self-assuredness that must be felt in her own skin.

Jane sits at a bar
Photograph by Emily Knecht/Max

Jane believes she can force Lucy to go outside her comfort zone. It’s the breaking point in their relationship. Where Lucy wants to slowly acclimate herself to this new identity, Jane wants Lucy to cannonball in. It’s easier to solve someone else’s problem than it is your own, but Jane doesn’t realize that’s how she’s acting. Instead of looking at her own romantic relationship with boyfriend Danny (Jermaine Fowler) and how their dynamic could change with the move to London, Jane is laser-focused on Lucy’s hesitations and fears. For most of their relationship, Jane’s controlling nature didn’t impact Lucy because she wasn’t faced with any sort of precipice. Prior to Jane’s London announcement, Lucy was coasting. She was resting on the steady nature of her receptionist job, the easy friendship with her upstairs neighbor Ben (Whitmer Thomas), and doodling at her day-job desk. Only once her life is thrown off-kilter and she feels a desire to take things into her own hands does Lucy realize how much her friendship with Jane relied on Lucy essentially being Jane’s yes-man.

Jane and Lucy at yoga
Photograph by Emily Knecht/Max

The chemistry between Johnson and Mizuno feels like a tried-and-true friendship that has grown over many years. The opening scene delivers on the lived-in bickering that only comes from knowing someone so intimately. The trouble with Jane and Lucy is that each thinks she’s figured out the other one, despite not having a clue who they are themselves. They have a codependent relationship without realizing it. The idea of another friend (Kat, played by an always-hilarious and chaotic Molly Gordon) provides just as much tension as the thousands of miles of separation that come with Jane’s London move. The question at the heart of Am I Ok? is whether a friendship can endure when faced with hardship. When two people who love each other dearly hit a roadblock, can they and will they move past it? Friendships often last longer than romantic relationships, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when friends fight. There’s a lot at stake, but that means there’s greater potential for reconciliation.

Lucy and Brit in Lucy's apartment
Photograph by Emily Knecht/Max

For all the non-believers in Johnson’s acting, Am I Ok? might finally be the movie that changes the perception of her talent. Maybe Madame Web wasn’t the best use of her skills, but Am I Ok? is. This is Johnson’s wheelhouse: awkward, sweet, and hopefully melancholic. There’s something uncomfortably scary about being thirty-two and experiencing the full force of a teenage-level crush for the first time. It’s being in the deep end at a time when you thought you would’ve already figured it all out. Johnson captures the excited terror of being around a crush, of gazing longingly into their eyes, of kissing them for the first time. When Lucy finally gets the courage to kiss a girl, she gets the biggest, brightest, most foolish grin on her face, and that pure ecstasy is contagious. Johnson clearly feels at home in Lucy’s skin and turns in such a genuine performance that she’ll likely gain a few more fans in the process.

Am I Ok? is a lovely way to start Pride Month. Lauren Pomerantz’s script is heartfelt, funny, and earnest. The direction from Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne is minimal, along the lines of an indie film that relishes more in the characters than overly stylizing the camera work. Notaro also has a delightfully odd cameo toward the end of the film that feels like a perfect bow on her debut movie as a director. Am I Ok? is a sweet entry into the genre of a best friend rom-com, one that captures the magic of coming into your own with someone who loves you by your side.

Am I Ok? will stream exclusively on Max beginning June 6, 2024.

Written by Tina Kakadelis

News Editor for Film Obsessive. Movie and pop culture writer. Seen a lot of movies, got a lot of opinions. Let's get Carey Mulligan her Oscar.

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