A colorful day-in-the-life drama about a woman skating on the fringes

Kelley Kali directing I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking). Photo: Maud Laurent.

Danny and her daughter Wes awaken on a hot California morning, cuddling in a tent and visibly sweating. I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking), from co-directors Kelley Kali and Angelique Molina, spends one anxious day with Danny (played by Kali), who is on a deadline to put a security deposit down for an apartment for herself and her daughter. Danny is a recent widow who has done what she can to keep her daughter comfortable as their funds have run ever lower, but they are near homeless.

Primarily shot through exterior shoots, the drama takes us through Danny’s chaotic day. She rollerskates through neighborhoods since she no longer owns a car. When a customer flakes out of paying after a hair-braiding appointment, Danny turns to food-running in hopes of making some fast money. Her stress is palpable as the day goes on and the sun grows hotter. Will she be able to get the money she needs?

Danny’s growing anxiety and worry seemingly transfers to the viewer (at least it did to this viewer). There’s a sense that things might be easier if she was more open to her limited support network about her situation, but the larger feeling is that Danny wants to find a way to get things under control herself.

A bright color palette suffuses this (literally) moving story. The film is thoroughly engaging; Kali has us rooting for her character throughout this journey. It’s worth noting that a woman-heavy production crew worked on I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).

Its grand jury award at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival included a comment that the film was financed “in part by stimulus relief checks,” which reflects a sense of immediacy to this work that I haven’t picked up in other films made during these pandemic times. The coronavirus is never mentioned, but masks are everywhere and the pandemic adds further limitations to Danny’s options.

Kali and Molina’s film calls to mind Miranda July’s You and Me and Everyone We Know or an O’Henry short story in certain spots, but it has its own unique creativity and sensibility. There are moments of laugh-out-loud humor (especially the Deon Cole cameo) amidst the hardship. I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) is a beautiful work that has remained on my mind since viewing.

Deon Cole, who served as a producer, also makes a cameo.

I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) premiered at SXSW.

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