I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking)
Stars: Kelley Kali, Wesley Moss, BK Marie, Deon Cole
Multi-hyphenate star-director-co-writer Kelley Kali’s pandemic era-set picture is a social realist fable a la ‘Bicycle Thieves’ with some droll laughs.
Danny (Kali) is a widowed young mother living with her eight-year-old daughter Wes (Moss) in a tent by the roadside in small town South California. Danny has told Wes that they are camping for fun. In reality, she is desperate to raise $200 for an apartment deposit before the landlord changes his mind at the end of the day. Dropping her daughter off at the sitters, Danny frantically roller-skates around town trying to drum up some hairdressing work with clients, while making dropping off meals for a food delivery app.
On her odyssey, she encounters an old friend Brooklynn (Marie) who she smokes a joint with, a lonely close acquaintance of her late husband who offers help, and a flashy kerb crawler (comedian Deon Cole).
What could be a harrowing depiction of hardscrablling mother desperately trying to raise funds in a unforgiving gig economy, is leavened by a witty script and the directors’ eclectic choices. The jaunty intro in which Danny, a vision in dayglow pink and yellow, jives around town plays like a musical, while a dream sequence nods to both ‘Trainspotting’ and Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ sleeve. There’s even a touch of ‘Daughters of the Dust’s’ dreamy languor when Danny sits up in a tree musing over her options. Meanwhile Kali’s likeable performance means we are rooting for the resourceful heroine every step or roll of the way.
Cinematographer Becky BaiHui Chen keeps the drama brightly lit, imbuing the COVID-era environs with a ghost town feel, but a beautiful magic hour glow illuminates the tentatively hopeful moments of grace at the conclusion.
I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) is released 3rd March
Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm