by Bailey Pennick
Before the Sundance Film Festival premiere of AM I OK? co-directors Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne described their feature as a love story about female friendship. At the forefront of this delightful comedy is the refreshing chemistry of Lucy and Jane (Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno, respectively); however, the deeper love letter to being able to evolve as a person is what makes this film resonate with viewers long after the credits roll.
Lucy and Jane are best friends in their thirties, living five minutes away from each other in Los Angeles. At the start, Lucy is kind of going through the motions of her life and Jane thinks she can read her like a book. Their blissful routine of meals at cute diners and long text chains is disrupted when Jane is promoted and promptly told she has to move to London. This break in her comfort zone jolts Lucy to realize and vocalize that she’s actually a lesbian.
This fluid story of bonding and queer self-realization came naturally to screenwriter Lauren Pomerantz, who wrote AM I OK? based on her own experiences: “It started as a friendship story about myself and my best friend… and we would just kind of write down all the dumb stuff we do together, so it really was rooted in our friendship. And when I was struggling with my own coming out and that journey, I realized that was the story I wanted to tell also.”
It was this sense of honesty that drew Johnson to the film. “I prefer a world in which people continue to grow and change throughout their whole lives,” the actor says passionately. “I think we’ve been seeing in coming-of-age, and buddy comedy movies, this plot that says that people have to have everything figured out in their lives in their twenties! And people in their twenties are dumb!”
Mizuno agrees with her colleague, wholeheartedly: “It was easy to connect to the material because it was so true to being a woman in your thirties.” That confidence and ease of these characters is so familiar and so refreshing to see. AM I OK? isn’t a coming-of-age film, it’s a story about coming into one’s own.