“Not Okay (2022).” With the rise of social media influencers as part of wider popular culture, films have begun to address their impact on individuals, perhaps most prominently with the dark comedy Ingrid Goes West. In her new film Not Okay, writer-director Quinn Shephard delivers her own dark comedy that focuses on one person who craves the fame of being an influencer above all else—to her own personal detriment. Zoey Deutch shines as the (mostly) unsympathetic lead in Not Okay, an incisive and entertaining satire of influencers and social media fame.
Not Okay (2022): Movie Review
Not Okay follows Danni Sanders (Deutch), an aspiring writer and social media influencer who, in order to impress a guy she likes – Colin (Dylan O’Brien) – tells him she’s been accepted into a writer’s retreat in Paris. Instead of admitting to the lie, Danni uses creative photo editing to post pictures on social media as if she were actually in Europe.
However, when a terrorist attack occurs in Paris, Danni’s lie becomes more complicated. Instead of telling her friends and family that she has never been to Paris, she continues the ruse. It spirals out of control, and when Danni visits a support group for survivors of traumatic events, she meets Rowan (Mia Isaac), a young gun reform activist. As Danni begins to discover that there is more to life than social media fame, her colleague Harper (Nadia Alexander) begins to dig into her story.
Shephard’s script for Not Okay is clever from the get-go, warning viewers that the film is telling the story of an unsympathetic protagonist before delivering on that promise. With Danni, Shephard manages to build a character that is truly destructive and does some heinous things that the audience probably wouldn’t do themselves.
The film also gives the audience enough insight into why Danni is the way she is that she becomes likable. The story especially picks up when Rowan is introduced; Rowan is the complete opposite of Danni and illustrates the other side of the coin that happens when one’s social media fame is a side effect of trying to make a real difference in the world. The dichotomy between Danni and Rowan is Not Okay’s greatest strength and making their relationship the focus of the film gives it a solid foundation.
So Not Okay really hinges on the performances of Zoey Deutch and Mia Isaac, and both women portray their characters brilliantly. As the tone-deaf and unsympathetic Danni, Deutch plays her with such charm that even if the viewer doesn’t empathize with her character from the start, they will pity her for the loneliness she feels. As the more down-to-earth Rowan, Isaac is full of charisma and it’s easy to see why Danni would be attracted to the young activist, even though it’s clear they don’t view social media the same way.
The supporting cast also shines, especially Dylan O’Brien and Nadia Alexander. O’Brien strikes the right balance between the obnoxious and rogue middle-class influencer Colin. Meanwhile, Alexander gives Harper a calm rage that makes the character feel sufficiently developed. All in all, Shepard drew great performances from the cast of Not Okay, which elevates her film.
As for how Not Okay handles the social media fame inherent in its premise, its depiction of Danni’s rise and fall is unflinchingly true—from how quickly she went viral to how she (and the magazine she works for) struggle to make money for her moment in the spotlight, her inevitable downfall, and the hilarious way the internet dissects her notoriety.
Shephard may not make any new or revelatory statements about social media and its impact on individuals, but she never shies away from all its ugly aspects either, whether it’s depicting Danni’s hunger for validation through likes or the brutality of hateful comments. Still, Shephard doesn’t insult Danni by portraying her as someone too naive to understand the pitfalls of social media, which makes the story all the more fascinating to watch.
Not Okay is definitely worth a watch for anyone intrigued by the premise, or anyone who is a fan of any talent. Deutch is charming and captivating as Danni, while Isaac excels as a filmmaker in Rowan and O’Brien brings plenty of humor as Colin. There is a lot of cringe comedy in Not Okay and all the actors do well. Shephard’s social media black comedy is an entertaining film that may make viewers think about their own relationship with social media.