In 2009, when I was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany, I traveled to Berlin on New Year’s Eve to celebrate. As my friends and I were getting turnt up in the bar, I came out as a lesbian. The moment was random and unprovoked. I shared the news with all my friends and had a dope night ringing in the 2010s, but panic set in when I woke up the next day. I’m 27 years old and a lesbian: What do I do now?
Coming out in your adult years is confusing and stressful, and this is the basis of Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne’s feature film debut, Am I okay? written by Lauren Pomerantz. As a Sundance Film Festival premiere, the film stars Dakota Johnson (Suspiria), Sonoya Mizuno (Crazy Rich Asians), Molly Gordon (Shiva Baby) and Kiersey Clemons (Antebellum). The film follows a woman who comes out as a lesbian at 32 years old and her challenges with adjusting to a new way of living.
Lucy (Johnson) and Jane (Mizuno) are the best friends and pretty much know everything about each other — except one thing. Lucy is a lesbian and breaks the news to her bestie on the night Jane announced her promotion and is moving to London for work. Shaken by the possible loss of her best friend, Lucy had to let it out, even if it was at a random time. Jane’s new mission is to make sure her baby-gay friend gets laid. There is Brit (Clemons), Lucy’s attractive, flirtatious co-worker with whom she might have a chance. However, after Lucy and Jane’s night out at a lesbian dance club, they have a falling out, prompting June request to leave for London earlier.
Being honest about her sexuality in adulthood makes Lucy feel lost because it’s like starting over, and she will have to face the awkwardness that comes with that. When a significant life change comes when you already have an established personality and way of living, it can turn your world upside down. So can a new position and an international move. It’s no wonder Lucy and Jane fight. The mutual anxiety of their unique situations causes friction, and their friendship is severed because they need to face their own problems separately.
Am I Okay? is truly a collective effort as everything co-exists harmoniously. It’s directed with such ease and clarity by Allynne and Notaro. There is something to be said for queer women managing a story about queer women. The focused gaze is apparent. This is aided by Pomerantz’s hilarious script, which is based on her own coming out and friendship with producer Jessica Elbaum. It’s great to know this story is coming from a real place, as there were so many relatable moments similar to my own coming out. Everything is brought to life by Johnson and Mizuno, the perfect pair who are relaxed and having a good time.
There have been a slew of mainstream films about women who love women come out in the last three years, including Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Ammonite and The World to Come. And while Am I Ok isn’t a revolutionary, it is undoubtedly more refreshing, diverse and comical than the movies I’ve mentioned. What’s important is that this isn’t just about a woman figuring out her sexuality, it’s about besties finding their place in the world, being comfortable with navigating it and supporting each other along the way.
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