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Not Okay 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) is an aspiring writer who’s yet to catch a big break and is stuck as a photo editor for social media based media company Depravity. Wanting to gain the attention of Depravity’s highest profile influencer Colin (Dylan O’Brien), Danni photoshops a series of photos pretending she’s in Paris as part of a writers retreat. When a series of terrorist bombings strike Paris during Danni’s “trip”, Danni soon finds herself at the center of attention from friends, family and strangers with Danni deciding to use her “close call” with the terrorist attacks as a way to get fame, attention and status and eventually befriends school shooting survivor/gun control advocate Rowan Aldren (Mia Isaac), but Danni’s charade will prove too good to last and wreak havoc upon herself and those around her.
Not Okay is the sophomore writing and directing feature effort of Quinn Shepherd, having previously directed the well regarded teen psychological drama Blame in 2017. Much like Blame, Not Okay tackles the topic of internet celebrity and the price thereof with the film designed around a deliberately selfish and self-serving character who’s only motivating goal is seeking attention and status and basically wanting to be “famous for being famous”. With such an abrasive and deliberately unlikable character as what’s presented it stands to reason Not Okay wouldn’t be an easy sit, and it isn’t. I do ultimately recommend the film because it is a smart portrait of easy instant fame and the price that comes with it.
Zoey Deutch is really good as Danni Sanders as she creates this portrait of vanity that’s filtered through the lens of our times where everyone’s online and the currency of clicks, likes, and shares are in high demand with everyone seeking to get to the top of the heap that is the internet. When Danni creates her Instasham trip to Paris which snowballs into something much bigger and far reaching with the coincidental attacks we see how Danni is tempted to exploit this opportunity for all its worth as she’s established as being unnoticed and ignored by most who like her also cater to superficial and vapid pursuits and interests which adds layers of complexity to what could’ve been itself a very vapid story in the wrong hands. Along with the attention seekers and glory hounds we see parading through the narrative, we see people actually trying to use these online platforms as engines for meaningful change such as Mia Isaac’s Rowan Aldren who’s sort of an amalgam of various school shooting survivors turned activists and is one of the few genuinely good characters in the film and also becomes collateral damage to Danni’s sham. While I appreciated the satirical take on exploitation of tragedy and the easy access to “15 minutes of Fame” that can just as quickly turn to infamy, I do feel like the movie cuts short by not expanding more on the fallout that happens from Danni’s lie. While we do get an idea of the stigma that will surround Danni, despite one of the chapters being titled “I Don’t Get a Redemption Arc” the movie does try to redeem Danni to a degree and I think it undercuts some of the bite from the premise. Comparing this to a benchmark of satirical dark comedies in 1999’s Election, Matthew Broderick’s character didn’t really have any redemption in that film it very much followed through completely on his character without his character having gone any sort of growth and still very much the engine of his own destruction. Admittedly this is probably more of a “me” thing and your mileage may vary.
Not Okay is a solid satire of internet fame/culture and provides a solid experience through the lens of our times as we look at the well worn story of hubris and downfall in the age of social media and influencing. It’s well acted with solid performances from Deutch, Isaac, and O’Brien, but I do feel the film doesn’t punch as hard as it could’ve in the third act. Still I do recommend the film as it is a smart and well made portrayal of this kind of internet fame.