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Not Okay Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

Vulgar, honest & incredibly mortifying. This is a window into the twisted & unorthodox mind of a lonely, unlikeable young influencer that is extremely well crafted!

Genre: Comedy / Drama

Director: Quinn Shephard

Cast: Zoey Deutch, Mia Isaac, Dylan O’Brien, Nadia Alexander, Negin Farsad, Tia Dionne Hodge, Karan Soni, Embeth Davidtz & Brennan Brown.

Run Time: 103 min.

US Release: 28 July 2022

UK Release: 29 July 2022 (Star on Disney+)

German Release: 12 August 2022 (Star on Disney+)

This Fox Searchlight satirical drama would have passed right underneath my nose if it hadn’t been for all the reviews popping up online, which I am grateful for! It is Quinn Shephard’s second directorial feature, really nailing the tone she was going for! I needed to stop several times while watching Not Okay on Disney+, as I felt completely embarrassed for the lead character, yet it always drew me back as I needed to know how the plot would progress. So let’s get into my review…

An ambitious young woman finds followers and fame, by posing as a survivor of a deadly terrorist attack. Still, life as an influencer is not just glamour, as Zoey soon learns that online fame comes at a terrible cost.

I haven’t seen Shephard’s directorial debut, but after having witnessed this black comedic drama she concocted, I am more than intrigued by Blame! This is finally a complex story about influencers plus social media platforms! While a lot of films tend to only scratch the surface of the subject; mostly revolving around an unfunny plot, this arthouse-like picture explores the psychological drive of a young woman that is yearning for attention and fame, finally obtaining it through a heinous lie. The screenplay's strong point is illustrating the story as a satiric comedy, giving dramatic moments a bigger gravitas.

Not Okay starts powerful, opening with the aftermath after Danny Sander has been exposed as a fraud. Where the movie excels though, is around its midpoint, when Sanders is introduced to her muse Rowan, a real survivor of a tragic event. It is right around here that the narrative starts jumping into psychological issues; not only does Danny's guilty conscience manifest as visions of a hooded figure, but it also delves into Rowan’s post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Still, the writing is not flawless, as it shifts too much into Rowan’s perspective at times, losing focus of the lead. It also shies away from depicting Danny as what she really is, trying to paint her in a sympathetic light during specific segments, as if afraid to commit fully to a despicable person. In short, the script feels like a diamond in the rough.

The dialogue revolves a lot around Gen-Zer’s vocabulary, specifically social media slang. Writers' language and Instagram hashtags are a priority here! However, it does not exclude or talk down to people that do not surround themselves with social media. Before displaying the first scene, Disney alerts viewers that the main character of this little flick is not a likeable person. Genuinely baffled as to why that was needed since the film is running under their adult content banner STAR in Europe and Hulu in the US. Plus this is a work of fiction, where not everyone needs to be depicted as a nice person. Nevertheless, most of the characters are so over-the-top, to drive the message home, that they start becoming caricatures more than real people.

Zoey Deutsch gives a grand performance as the self-absorbed Danni Sanders, to such an extent that it becomes uncomfortable to watch her character on screen. It is embarrassing to hear what comes out of her mouth when speaking, as well as to see her stumble around in life, trying to force a friendship with people, who clearly want nothing from her. Danny is a social media junkie; a product of her generation that does not understand the harm she causes by exploiting a lie. For her, being seen on those platforms means happiness.

Her second introduction after the opening sequence, reminded me a little of Brendan Fraser’s character Elliot in Bedazzled, just without the slapstick comedy. Deutch gives her persona enough cringe, painting Danny as really unlikeable for the audience.

Mia Isaac as Rowan is the driving force of this movie! Not only because Isaac gives an extremely compelling portrayal of the teenage girl, but because her character was written as the only realistic person, contrasting with the rest of the cast. A survivor of a school shooting, Rowan is an activist and online persona protesting against gun violence in the US. Isaac did an amount of research, playing her role with such charisma that she steals every scene she is in!

Dylan O’Brien, who is cast as Colin, depicts the cliché wannabe hipster who is working as an influencer. Colin is extremely shallow, living far away from reality. An excessive, nevertheless, authentic portrayal of some of the people that are rummaging around several platforms.

The cinematography is very stylish plus modern, blending standard shots with smartphone-like taken videos, creating a surrealness that compliments the narrative. The playful camera work, in combination with the use of colours, does underline the comedic aspect, setting up a perfect downfall during the one-hour mark, where it shifts into the dramatic genre. In short, the camera work is very inventive!

The visual effects are okay but at times noticeable, making it hard to tell if it was on purpose, as it is mostly during dream sequences of the main character, standing in a specific location. The sound effects, on the other hand, are well crafted and used to full effect during moments when PTSD is triggered within a persona.


Verdict: This is a well-forged second directorial feature, by Quinn Shephard, delving into the topic of social platforms and disconnection from reality. It also shows the world behind the hashtags and Instagram glamour, where people can capitalise on someone else's pain, stealing their voice. It is a rich plot, showing enough ugly truth of social fame, to make the audience think about it. However, it also holds back, being too afraid to commit completely to the story it sets up. The complete cast gives a grand performance, yet it is Mia Isaac who steals the show, as her character is the only one not exaggeratedly written. The cinematography is creative, while the effects are generally well helmed; especially the sound effects. Not Okay is an interesting satirical drama that while I enjoyed, probably won't see a second time. It is one of those flicks perfect for a one-time watch and obtains a 7.0 out of 10.

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