This week I recently reviewed a satire about an influencer seeking fame and purpose (Vengeance), but realizes this career move isn’t necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be. Well, coincindentally I also watched this particular movie that has similar themes, and has some valid points of its own, but the filmmakers have a hard time concluding their protagonist’s journey with proper closure. In mulitple ways Not Okay is much more relevant to today’s internet climate of YouTube influencers and social media characters, but the screenplay that gets utilized in the finished product of this movie feels incomplete and unsatisfying.
Zoey Deutch stars as Danni Sanders, a media influencer who aspires to be the queen of the internet, but has trouble finding her voice, her way of reaching out to the masses in impactful ways. Desperate to fit in with her more successful colleagues, Danni decides to fake a trip to Paris, France, under the ruse that she is attending a writing conference there. She uses her photoshop software to falsify pictures that present her touring the city and posts them on her social media accounts.
This works fine at first; however, things get rather complicated when a horrible terrorist attack takes place where she supposedly is. Afraid to reveal the truth, Danni pretends to be a witness to the horrible attrocities that took place that day. She returns home, and pretends to be a victim and utilizes this new “status” to bolster her fame, albeit while spreading important messages. Her career gets further validated and boosted when she joins anti-high school violence activist Rowan Alden (Mia Isaac), a very vocal and intelligent young lady who demands change when it comes to gun control.
Written and directed by Quinn Shepherd, Not Okay is definitely an interesting and sometimes riveting character study and delivers razor sharp commentary on the state of electronic media and how low some people are willing to stoop for the sake of noteriety. The movie has a lot of heart and passion, and actually works mostly well as a dark comedy. I simply feel that Shepherd dropped the ball a bit when it comes to resolution of her character’s journey. In going for something more realistic, the movie ends on a jarringly abrupt note.
Both Shepherd and actor Zoey Deutch manage to make Danni Sanders, a moderately likable and sympathetic character in the beginning. She might be vapid and clueless, but she doesn’t exactly deserve disdain from others. As she digs herself deeper to a very disturbing point, it gets to the point where it is very difficult to like her, but for me, it never gets to the level of pure hatred. Deutch’s natural charisma and talent for portraying real, flesh and blood characters work magic here.
Another gifted actor who works wonders is young Mia Isaac, who portrays the intensely passionate, but also heartbreakingly vulnerable and hurting Rowan Alden. Isaac, whose performance I very much enjoyed in Don’t Make Me Go, shows that she can deliver a multifaceted turn that demands a large range of emotions. Both she and Deutch work well together and beautifully portray a sort of big sister/little sister dynamic.
Overall, Not Okay is better than okay, but that flawed screenplay holds it back from achieving excellence. Still, I moderately recommend it a relevant satire on our world today, if just to watch both Zoey Deutch and Mia Isaac act their hearts out. The movie is now available for streaming via Hulu.