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Am I OK? Max Film Review: Seeking self discovery

Dakota Johnson smiles looking to her left, wearing a white shirt, in the Max film Am I OK?

Am I OK? is a sweet, sincere, film. It teaches us the importance of friendship, and that it’s never too late to undertake a self-discovery journey.

Directors: Stephanie Allynne & Tig Notaro
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Run Time: 86′
US Release: June 6, 2024
UK Release: TBA
Where to watch: Max

“When you let go and start to embrace who you really are, that’s when you start to open up your hearts and bodies.” This is one of the powerful lines spoken in Stephanie Allynne and Tig Notaro’s co-directed feature, Am I OK?, which perfectly encapsulates the film’s important message. Delving into the complexities of the human condition, the movie reflects the challenges we as individuals can face when processing and accepting our identity and feeling lost as we strive to find our path later in life.

Lucy (Dakota Johnson, of Madame Web and Daddio) and Jane (Sonoya Mizuno, of Ex Machina) have been best friends since they were kids. The pair tell each other everything about their lives. However, after Jane announces that she has been offered a job overseas in London, Lucy informs her friend of a secret that she has been keeping quiet for quite some time: she is attracted to women. As Lucy attempts to embrace her sexuality and explore her identity at the age of 32, she finds herself at odds with the very person who knows her best.

As Lucy’s closest confidant, Jane really is the sort of friend every woman wishes they had by their side. She encourages Lucy to put herself out there and gives her the gentle push she needs to pursue a same-sex relationship and believe that she is worthy of love. Though both have different approaches to life, they balance each other out. Lucy and Jane’s differing personalities are part of what keeps the story interesting, and the script provides each character with depth and their own distinctiveness. Lucy is the sensible, methodical type who approaches every situation with caution, while Jane dives in headfirst with her: You only live once, so be in the now mentality. She may come off as domineering, though she means well, and her intentions are pure.

Sonoya Mizuno and Dakota Johnson sit at a table in a diner opposite each other in the Max film Am I OK?
Sonoya Mizuno and Dakota Johnson in Am I OK? (Emily Knecht/Max)

Johnson and Mizuno are a joy to watch together on screen, capturing a genuinely believable, authentic friendship. Their conflict proves that not all platonic relationships are smooth sailing, and even the closest of pals have disagreements. However, despite the diverging viewpoints and life experiences throughout adulthood that may temporarily cause people to drift apart, sincere friendships will always stand the test of time, and true bonds can never be broken.

Am I OK? showcases Johnson in one of her most grounded, endearing performances to date. Lucy is a complex character, and throughout the film, viewers witness her beautiful yet challenging path to self-discovery. Eventually, she casts aside her fear of coming out and being judged by others and embraces her true identity while accepting the happiness that she deserves. Even in the quietest of moments, Johnson depicts the internal emotional rollercoaster Lucy is undergoing in such a powerful way. Through her facial expressions alone, we grasp her every thought and feeling, along with her desire and apprehension about revealing the secret she has kept for such a long time, not only from her best friend but also from the world.

Even characters with smaller roles have dynamic personalities that add layers to the storyline. Take, for example, Kat: Jane’s rebellious, self-absorbed friend. She’s as irritating as she is comedic, which is a testament to Molly Gordon’s fantastic acting. Jermaine Fowler takes on the role of Jane’s down-to-earth, practical boyfriend Danny, whose laid-back, breezy demeanor brings an added touch of wholesomeness to the storyline.

Am I OK?: Trailer (Max)

If you can’t relate to Lucy’s struggles with her sexuality, Am I OK? still resonates on many levels. Once we reach our thirties, societal pressures make us doubt our decisions in life, if we aren’t as settled as we think we should be. However, what if that time comes, and we are still figuring out who we really are? Lucy’s story proves that it’s more than acceptable to take our time when shaping our future and that life is a marathon, not a sprint. There are no set deadlines for certain life events. Instead, every individual is unique and on their own fulfilling journey.

Am I OK? does follow a predictable pattern, and the story’s lack of originality may be off-putting to some viewers. Still, the film is an uplifting, heartfelt watch with noteworthy performances, well-established characters, and relatable subject matter. But perhaps the two biggest takeaways from Allynne and Notaro’s feature are the celebration of friendship among women and encouraging viewers to embrace who they truly are. After all, self-discovery and growth have no time limits.

Am I OK? will stream exclusively on MAX on June 6, 2024.

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