2022 Sundance Film Festival Capsule Reviews

Because of the number of films I'm screening at Sundance this year, I'll be doing full-length reviews of some titles and capsule reviews of others. Below is the second wave of capsules.

Am I OK? - Lucy (Dakota Johnson) and Jane (Sonoya Mizuno) are longtime best friends. There isn't much they don't know about each other, until Lucy reveals that she might possibly, kind of, maybe be attracted to women. Under Jane's encouragement, she returns the flirtations of a comely coworker (Kiersey Clemons). Her personal journey hits a snag, however, when Jane accepts a job promotion that will force her to move overseas. How is one to cope with a major life transition without their bestie? Johnson is fantastic in the lead role, using subtlety and humor to convey her character's hesitation about forging ahead in a new direction. She and Mizuno play off each other nicely, allowing the friendship to feel real. Directed by actress Stephanie Allynne and comedian Tig Notaro, Am I OK? takes a lighthearted look at coming to terms with one's sexuality – and that approach makes the film warm and inviting.

Am I OK?


Summering - James Ponsoldt has made some very good films, including The Spectacular Now and The End of the Tour. Unfortunately, his latest – the kid's movie Summering – isn't at that level. In a twist on Stand by Me, the story revolves around four young girls who find the dead body of an adult male in a ravine on the last days of summer before middle school starts. Rather than reporting their discovery, they attempt to investigate how he might have ended up there. The film can't decide whether to be a comedy, a horror flick, or a coming-of-age tale, so it tries to be all three simultaneously. That prevents it from fully working as any of those things. A few individual scenes offer promise, and the relative newcomers playing the girls are appealing together. Summering just doesn't know what it is, and therefore a lot of potentially intriguing elements are left unfulfilled.

Summering


Dual - Riley Stearns, the director of The Art of Self-Defense and Faults, returns with Dual, the weirdest comedy I've seen in years. Fortunately, I really like weird, so this movie was a treat. Karen Gillan plays Sarah, a woman with a terminal illness. To make things easier for her boyfriend and mother after her passing, she signs up to have herself cloned. (They ironically like the clone more than they like her.) Then the unexpected happens. Her disease abruptly goes into remission. Given that the rules in this fictional society claim there can only be one of any given person, she is forced to participate in a “fight to the death” with the clone. Aaron Paul co-stars as the combat trainer who preps her for it. Dual has a delightfully warped sense of humor, taking the most morbid subjects and making them the center of wry jokes. Gillan is hilarious as both versions of Sarah.

Dual