I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) (2021)

US festival favourite I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) is a touching, positive indie movie, female written and directed, made during Los Angeles’ lockdown (see the mask use) focusing on the struggles to be independent of a widowed mother who happens to be homeless, black and female – and beautiful.

Don't Ask

by Alexa Dalby

I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking)

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Recently widowed hairdresser Danny (Kelley Kali) becomes homeless and convinces her cute 8-year-old daughter Wes (Wesley Moss) that they are only camping for fun. They have a very close and loving relationship and both are quietly grieving. Danny weaves enchanting fantasies for Wes to protect her from knowing how dire a situation they are in and to keep her father’s memory alive.

But Wes is too hot in the tent, fed up with so-called ‘camping’ and impatient to return ‘home’ from the inhospitable desert on the outskirts of Los Angeles. For the rest of the day, Danny works desperately to find the deposit to put down on an apartment. She has promised Wes that they will have a home by the end of the day and she has to keep it somehow.

With two clients to braid in their suburban homes, Danny is confident she will earn the remaining $200 she needs to secure the apartment she persuaded Mr Yu (Xing-Mai Deng) to hold. But her clients either let her down or don’t pay, leaving her with $200 still to earn by delivering takeaways.

A series of mishaps and wrong turns mean that her goal slips further and further away as the day wears on. She exhausts herself roller-skating all over town in the Los Angeles heat. Running into friends (Brooklynn Marie and Andrew Galvan) unfortunately doesn’t help – though they don’t mean to, the complications of her relationship with each of them hinder her. All alone, Danny is sexually harassed by a narcissistic, bragging stranger (Deon Cole) that she possibly knows of through her friends, and has to fight a violent home robber she surprises (Brian Brooks II).

Under mounting time pressure as daylight fades, and with roller skates as her only means of transportation, by the end of the day she still has to get the money she needs to keep her promise to her daughter. Despair drives her to sacrifice something very precious to her: the unexpected kindness that helps her out comes from an unlikely place.

It is a day from hell for an independent, grieving, loving single mother as she tries to cope on her own and insist to her daughter or anyone who asks that everything is fine. It takes a lot for Danny to admit that actually she’s not fine. It’s not until she does, that things start to go right. When she wakes next morning her face shows a heart-wrenching mixture of pain and triumph. The America of this film is a cruel society that neglects or devours its poor or unlucky people – unless they are as strong as Danny.

I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) screened at SXSW and SFFilm, has won numerous festival awards, and is released on 3 March 2023 in cinemas and on demand in the UK.

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