Right from the very beginning there is something endearing and quirky about Nete (played by Paprika Steen). She smokes constantly, talks quickly and is always on the move. Her constant activity seems to keep those around her at bay and relationships are starting to crumble from the start of the film. Nete is the one who drives the drama in Okay, and everyone must do her bidding or risk her quite open disapproval. It is her hectic behaviour, with never a moment left for reflection, that causes all the conflicts in the plot. Nete’s long suffering husband Kristian (Troels Lyby) is the quiet centre of the family. He does all the cooking. Nete however doesn’t really seem to appreciate any of his lavish care and his attentions are soon diverted to a young student who takes a keen interest in him. Their daughter (Molly Blixt Egelind) meanwhile revels in teenage angst. She finds allies in her father and grandfather against her mother.
Nete’s father (absolutely brilliantly played by Ole Ernst) is dying of a terminal illness and has only a few weeks to live. She decides that he must spend these remaining weeks in her family’s extremely cramped house. Naturally his habits become increasingly irritating especially as he shows no sign of dying. Nete also feels that her father and her brother Martin (Nikolaj Kopernikus) should make up after not having talked to each other for eight years. This scenario is made more difficult by the fact that not only is Martin gay (which is the cause of the rift between father and son), but that he is also about to become the sperm donor father to a lesbian couple’s baby.
The rest of the film plays out as a skewed version of the family drama. Luckily the characters are all three dimensional, no doubt partially helped by the script development which included input from Paprika Steen. Her character is the strong central figure. The others move around her in their conflicts with her and each other: husband versus wife, daughter versus mother, daughter versus father, father versus daughter and father versus son. These scenes are sometimes played out in long silences, such as the father sitting at the table with his gay son whom he hasen’t talked to in eight years; or in screaming matches above the sound of the television that Nele’s father likes to listen to at top volume. It is the variety which keeps the viewer’s attention.
The storyline has a credible family-in-crisis theme carried by a very competent cast, and the only real niggling criticism is the insipid music – especially the Europop blandness of the title song, which seems to cling nauseatingly to scenes like sickly syrup. In terms of style, it was a relief to watch an arthouse feature using the camera to capture the action rather than choosing to use handheld cameras for the sake of it. The use of light is also unusual – particularly in the film’s hospital scenes. When the doctor tells Nete that her father doesn’t have long to live, the stark white and metallic fixtures coupled with his overlit face make him look surreal, almost like God pronouncing a death sentence. In conclusion, Okay is a thoroughly pleasant film to watch – real enough for a sigh, funny enough for a laugh, and weird enough for the occasional shake of the head.