- Run time: 1 hr 40 minutes
- Studio: Searchlight Pictures
- Director: Quinn Shepherd
- Where to Watch: Hulu
Danni Sanders is alone. She wants to be the lavish influencer that pervades everyone’s social media feeds and travels the world for her writing career. But she has few followers and even fewer friends. She’s practically invisible, even to her own family. When she comes up with the idea to create a fake work retreat in Paris, she accidentally gets caught up in a terrorist attack and claims to have really been there. Her poor luck and bad timing give her an incredible opportunity to create the brand she’s been looking for.
Not Okay Review:
When Danni Sanders comes up with the idea to create a fake writers retreat in Paris, France, she thinks it’ll just generate a little bit of harmless social media influence. Maybe she’ll get a few new followers and an ad sponsorship deal? Something would be nice, because Danni is scraping the bottom of the barrel at her dead end job as a photo editor for Depravity magazine.
In the world of social media, shock and awe is what earns likes and Danni gets more than she bargains for. After photoshopping her way to success with the latest post putting Danni in front of the Arc de Triomphe, the unpredictable happens. A terrorist cell bombs several Parisian landmarks, including the Arc. In the ensuing chaos, Danni decides that further manipulation wouldn’t necessarily make things worse and goes along with it.
But going along with it demands an even bigger and more complex lie. After faking an airport arrival from France and interviewing with the news as a survivor, Danni takes it one step further. She goes on the media tour and eventually lands herself in a therapy group, full of survivors from other tragedies.
Using the group as a model to improve her faux grief, Danni eventually befriends a young woman named Rowan Aldren. She is the survivor of a school shooting that claimed the lives of several classmates. Rowan tours the country as a rally leader with her mother. During their group therapy sessions together, two girls begin to open up and become close. For the first time in her life, she has a real friend and it’s all based on a lie.
Fame and fortune is everything to Danni , but at what cost is she willing to get it? Quinn Shepherd’s Not Okay explores the depths of that question as well as the influence modern social media has over everything we interact with, including tragedy. The one thought that kept echoing through my mind as I watched Not Okay is that it is literally only a matter of time until this really happens.
In one scene, a social media manager mentions that Snapchat will be creating a new red beret filter to honor the victims of the Paris bombings. The character is just a blip on the overall story, but the callousness to which that line was delivered exemplifies the symptoms of the influencer plague. Not to mention the fact that it’s entirely within the realm of possibilities for facial lens filters these days anyway. Not Okay is full of dialogue and character rationalizations that are so harshly accurate that it couldn’t help but create a pit of stress and cringe inside my stomach while I was watching.
Zoey Deutch and Colin O’Brien exemplify the typical influencer heirarchy. There’s some phony at the top from Maine that pretends to be everything he isn’t. And then there’s the people at the bottom who idolize and worship those who lied their way to the top. Both Deutch and O’Brien are perfectly cast and really amplify the douche factor to 11. But the real star of the show is Mia Isaac. She’s fiery, energetic, and the only bright spot in the story, even though her story is the most tragic.
Not Okay is full length follow up to Quinn Shepherd’s directorial debut Blame. Starring Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, and Mia Isaac, Not Okay is the story of an aspiring modern day influencer named Danni Sanders. Danni gets caught up in a terrorist attack in Paris and capitalizes on it to create her 15 seconds of fame. Chasing the urge to satisfy the social media dopamine rushes that influence all of us, Danni lies and abuses those she comes into contact with. While it is a little rough around the edges, Not Okay is a painful but important movie that forces the audience to look in the mirror about a great many topics.