“Have you ever wanted to be noticed so badly, you didn’t even care what it was for?”
Danni Sanders is awful. In the opening credits of Not Okay, it's apparent that she is the most hated person in America. She is self-absorbed, desperate, awkward, and lonely. Danni is a forgettable outcast who stars as the main character in her own life, which no one around her understands. Her parents are wealthy and distant, she has no friends, and she's in love with a weed-smoking coworker who happens to be a blue check-marked influencer.
So why are we watching a movie that focuses so much on such a terrible person? Good question!
Not Okay is the latest film from writer/director Quinn Shephard, which tells the story of Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch), a wannabe "Zillennial" writer working at a digital magazine who becomes famous after she poses on social media as a survivor of a bombing in Paris. She crafts this lie for attention and gains followers in the process. The more followers she attains, the more the lie and her story expand, resulting in a delusional female protagonist using attention to boost self-confidence and write a "Me Too" style article that becomes a rallying cry for change. Simply put, Danni becomes a pathological liar.
The guilt of her acts slowly creeps up on Danni, as her delusions manifest themselves into hallucinations when she starts to see the real terrorist everywhere she goes. Yet, it's hard to feel bad for a person like Danni. Have her lies snowballed so much that redemption isn't an option?
While the film gives strong Ingrid Goes West vibes, Not Okay is not as strong of a vehicle for its star. Zoey Deutch is in almost every frame on screen and is a promising talent that deserves a substantial leading role, but this movie isn't it. As the love interest influencer, Dylan O'Brien is a complete waste as his character brings nothing to the table in moving the story forward other than that he's the object of Danni's desire in her personal life. The two actors starred in a much better movie entitled The Outfit earlier this year, which showcases their acting skills much more prominently than this film does.
The standout performance comes from Mia Isaac as Rowan, a gun violence survivor reminiscent of the Parkland shooting victims. Her character brings depth to an otherwise cynical film, bringing Danni back to Earth whenever she flies too close to the sun. Danni's interactions with Rowan lead to more social media followers for both characters, which extends Danni's lie even more until something has to give.
While we are meant to hate Danni from the beginning, I still found her unbearable by the end.
Not Okay will be released on Hulu on July 29th.
Ticket rating: 🎟🎟1/2