Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno in "Am I OK?"

Real-life couple Stephanie Allynne and Tig Notaro premiered their new film "Am I OK?" at the Sundance Film Festival this year. This subtle one-third-life crisis comedy hits on a lot of serious identity issues while still being funny and uplifting.

Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno play Lucy and Jane respectively. Their friendship has spanned over many years and has provided them both comfort during their fun-loving twenties. But as each of them realizes that their thirties will involve more adulting, a fissure in their relationship soon develops.

First, Jane's career has finally gained her enough experience for a huge promotion overseas, and Lucy, who's still figuring out where she fits, progresses through life in a sort of limbo between self-realization and denial. The latter is further exacerbated by Jane's overbearing control issues.

Since it happens early in the film, it's no spoiler to reveal that Lucy is going through a self-identity sexuality crisis. She doesn't really connect with men and even though deep-down she knows why, it's only recently come to the surface after shunning a really nice guy who some would call "relationship material."

After a heart-to-heart confession to Jane about her sexuality, Lucy struggles with that epiphany, dealing with the arrested development of her closeted life over the past 25 years. But Jane remains supportive, perhaps overly so as she pushes Jane to immediately get out there and "touch vagina" which is just another example of her superintendence of the friendship.

As these two characters grow up, they find out that things, in order to change, must evolve, and with that old characteristics must molt. The cognitive dissonance going on with them individually sours their collective force and old roles become collateral damage. Whether this destroys their dynamic for good is for you, the viewer to find out.

Dakota Johnson plays Lucy in "Am I Ok?"Sundance Film Festival

"Am I OK?" isn't as heavy as the above synopsis feels. This film at its heart is a sort of backward engineered romantic comedy about friendships and how they evolve over time. Standing up to the person who knows you best is not easy, but essential.

The chemistry between Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno is impeccable, and the material they are given to work with is top-notch. Tig and Allynne direct these characters succinctly, but with enough broad strokes to make them precocious yet vulnerable.

Johnson is such a lovable presence. There is no way you could come away from this film without looking into her oeuvre for other works. She is actually in another film, "Cha Cha Real Smooth," premiering at Sundance, and praise for her in that film is even richer.

What Johnson gives Lucy in "Am I OK?" is a quiet voice and pensive countenance. She comes from the bloodline of Hollywood elite; her mother is Melanie Griffith and her grandmother is Tippi Hedren. Just like those women, Johnson delivers a naïveté, but so grounded that you know by the end her years of denial were simply a part of her destiny.

Sonoya Mizuno isn't letting Johnson steal the show. Her Jane is just as insecure but doesn't wear it on her sleeve. In fact, it's just the opposite. She's believably pushy and overbearing yet somehow still inspiring.

This being a Gloria Sanchez Productions film it could have gone the silliness route like with their "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar," or even in satirical, dramatic ways as in Ridley Scott's "Thelma in Louise." But thankfully Lauren Pomerantz's excellent script isn't full of folly and everything feels relatable and fresh.

One trick the writer has in store for you is making you feel as though you know where this story is going from the beginning, and you might be wrong. In its final third, both Jane and Lucy have leveled up in both maturity and confidence. They have become better friends because they have accepted parts of themselves only the other could extract.

"Am I OK?" is a thoughtful comedy with enough respect for its audience to not punch down on its subject matter for laughs. Instead, you will laugh because these characters are so likable and so flawed that their interactions are relatable. We all have that one best friend who knows everything about us. It's those friends who know us better than we know ourselves and no matter how much we want to deny it, have helped mold us into the people we are today.

"Am I OK?" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2022.

Meet the Artist: Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne on "Am I Ok?" www.youtube.com

Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

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LGBTQ+ Healthcare Issues

The Dobbs decision, otherwise known as the court case that overturned Roe v. Wade, has resulted in confusing medical situations for many patients. On top of affecting access to abortions for straight, cisgender women, it presents heightened risks for LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole. Flipping the switch on reproductive rights and privacy rights is a far-reaching act that makes quality care harder to find for an already underserved community.

As the fight against the Dobbs decision continues, it’s important to shed light on the full breadth of its impact. We’ll discuss specific ways that the decision can affect LGBTQ+ healthcare and offer strategies for overcoming these challenges.

How the Right to Bodily Privacy Affects LGBTQ+ Healthcare

When the original Roe v. Wade decision was made, the bodily privacy of people across the United States was protected. Now that bodily autonomy is no longer guaranteed, the LGBTQ+ community must brace itself for a potential loss of healthcare rights beyond abortions. This includes services like feminizing and masculinizing hormone therapy (particularly for transgender youth) that conservative lawmakers have been fighting against this year, as well as transition-related procedures. Without privacy, gender-affirming care may be difficult to access without documentation of sex as “proof” of gender.

As essential services for the LGBTQ+ community become more difficult to access, perhaps the most immediate effect we’ll see is eroding trust between healthcare providers and LGBTQ+ patients. When providers aren’t working in the best interest of patients — just like in cases of children and rape victims denied abortions — patients may further avoid preventative care in a community that already faces discrimination in doctor’s offices.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t Just a Women’s Issue

While the Dobbs decision is often framed as a women's issue — specifically, one that affects cisgender women — it impacts the transgender and non-binary community just as much. All people who are capable of carrying a pregnancy to term have lost at least some ability to choose whether or not to give birth in the U.S.

For transgender and non-binary individuals, this decision comes with the added complexity of body dysmorphia. Without abortion rights, pregnant trans men and some non-binary people may be forced to see their bodies change, and be treated as women by healthcare providers and society as a result.

The Dobbs decision also opens up the possibility for government bodies to determine when life begins — and perhaps even to add legal protections for zygotes and embryos. This puts contraceptives at risk, which could make it more difficult to access gender-affirming care while getting the right contraceptives based on sex for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Overturning Reproductive Rights Puts IVF at Risk

Queer couples that dream of having their own children often have limited options beyond adoption. One such option is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which involves implanting a fertilized egg into a uterus.

While IVF isn’t directly affected by the Dobbs decision, it could fall into a legal gray area depending on when states determine that life begins. Texas, for example, is already barring abortions as early as six weeks. To reduce embryo destruction, which often occurs when patients no longer want more children, limits could be placed on the number of eggs that can be frozen at once.

Any restrictions on IVF will also affect the availability of surrogacy as an option for building a family.

How Can LGBTQ+ Individuals Overcome Healthcare Barriers?

While the Dobbs decision may primarily impact abortion rights today, its potential to worsen LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole is jarring. So how can the community be prepared?

If you’re struggling to find LGBTQ+-friendly providers near you, using telemedicine now can be an incredibly effective way to start developing strong relationships with far-away healthcare professionals. Telemedicine eliminates the barrier of geography and can be especially helpful for accessing inclusive primary care and therapy. Be sure to check if your insurance provider covers telemedicine.

If you’re seriously concerned about healthcare access in your area — especially if the Dobbs decision affects your whole state or you need regular in-person services that may be at risk — it may be time to consider moving now. While not everyone has the privilege to do so, relocating gives you the ability to settle in areas where lawmakers better serve your needs. However, this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, so preparing and making progress on a moving checklist now can help you avoid issues later.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t LGBTQ+-Friendly

The Supreme Court of the United States has proven the power of its conservative majority with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, the effects of the Dobbs decision don’t stop at affecting cisgender women’s abortion rights. In states with bans, it also leads to forced birth for trans men and non-binary individuals. Plus, the Dobbs decision increases the risk of other rights, like hormone therapy and IVF, being taken away.

Taking steps now, whether it’s choosing a virtual provider or considering a move, can help you improve your healthcare situation in the future.