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Review: Not Okay (2022)

Good luck understanding any of this, people over 30!

I think we have a new official record for the shortest amount of time a movie has taken to win me over! Everyone, please put your hands together for Not Okay (2022) which successfully made me snort laugh LITERALLY within the first five seconds! This movie starts with the hilariously on point disclaimer, “CONTENT WARNING: This film contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikable female protagonist. Viewer discretion is advised.” I’m sorry, but that’s the type of tongue in cheek humour that just cracks me up. That cheeky, self-referential tone runs rampant through this satirical dramedy, immediately letting you know the type of movie you’re about to see. I was really impressed by this movie! In fact, I’d go as far as to proclaim it to be one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. 

Credit: imdb.com / Searchlight Pictures

Written and directed by Quinn Shephard, Not Okay tells the story of Danni Sanders, an aspiring writer unsatisfied with her average life. When she lies on social media to make it seem like she took a Parisian vacation, she unexpectedly becomes the “survivor of a tragic event” after terrorists bomb the city. Suddenly thrust into the spotlight, she exploits her newfound fame for her personal gain.

Oh wow…if you aren’t a Gen Z or millennial with an adequate understanding of Internet culture and the types of “celebrities,” scandals, jobs and content it produces…you are going to be so lost. There’s also a strong chance you may not enjoy this movie. Good Lord the amount of Internet / millennial culture buzzwords that are thrown out in the first few minutes is staggering. Even I as a semi-young person found it to be a lot and slightly annoying. Which is the point, though! If you’re over 30 I have a hunch you won’t be able to stand or understand this movie. I still strongly recommend you try though! But anyone under 30 will absolutely understand the satire at work and find the humour in it. I recommend watching it with your friends, ones that will appreciate taking the piss out of Internet culture.

If anything, Not Okay makes me want to delete my social media accounts. Well, not entirely but it makes me want to eliminate all the vapid bullshit we see on a daily basis. You choose what you fill your brain with and I’m making a semi-serious vow right now to no longer indulge all the artifice and bullshit. Even if it wasn’t what Not Okay was intending to do, it made me gain  greater appreciation for the things and people I’m genuinely passionate about and care for in life. The movie starts off cute and silly which would have been fine enough, but it also packs an emotional punch that will cut straight to your heart. I was not expecting to be crying multiple times during this movie. I was crying almost as many times as I was laughing!

Shephard’s writing is stellar. The dialogue is snappy, the pacing is great and she has a distinct voice and style that sets her apart from other writer / directors. The attention to detail in everything from the editing to the production design is impressive and shows that Shephard clearly went the extra mile. It’s very clear the type of movie Shephard is going for and the story she’s trying to tell and not only does she pull if off fantastically, but it has me very excited for what she’ll do next. Without spoiling anything because I want as many of you to see this movie as possible, I have to give Shephard major props for sticking to her vision and not writing the kind of ending that I’m sure studios must have pressured her to deliver. I love that she has a clear stance on redemption and retribution, one that I think most audiences won’t see coming. I like that this is a movie that’s giving me a lot to think about. Culture, celebrity, morality…Not Okay is by no means a great philosophical movie but it’s making me think which is more than I can say for a lot of movies I’ve seen lately.

Zoey Deutch NAILS the role of Danni. What’s so great about the character is that Shephard writes every side of her: the selfish side, the lonely side, the desperate side, the genuine side, and Deutch plays every aspect of the character perfectly. I was blown away by how versatile Deutch is as an actress and how much range she got to explore with this character who on the surface, may seem very simple. I enjoyed that Danni is not meant to be a good person. No matter what her initial innocent intentions were, she proves herself to be an exploitative, selfish person. Not every protagonist needs to be likeable, I fully believe that wholeheartedly and we even got that great disclaimer at the beginning, but I need a protagonist to be relatable or understandable. And though it’s deplorable, I understand why Danni would go through all this which makes for an interesting character to watch. Also, shoutout to Mia Isaac as Rowan. I don’t know if it’s just a combination of effective writing and acting or because her scenes contained subject matter that will (sadly) always be timely, but this talented young actress had me in tears with her moving performance almost every time she was on screen. 

I really enjoyed and appreciated Not Okay. Though it’s more or less the social media version of the excellent Shattered Glass (2003) or a less earnest version of  “Dear Evan Hansen” (the awesome musical not the horrifying movie), it’s still an awesome and emotional movie that I thoroughly recommend. I mean, Danni has a pet guinea pig named GUINEA WEASLEY. That and the sight of blonde Dylan O’Brien are more than enough reasons to watch. Trust me, it’s way more than okay.

Have you seen Not Okay?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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