At the beginning of “Not Okay,” we watch our female protagonist, Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch), cry as she reads some online posts.
The posts are vicious attacks on her person. Instantly, our interest is piqued. What could this innocent-looking person have done to create such a nasty storm of vitriol?! With almost everyone online these days, it’s an excellent way for writer/director Quinn Shephard to start his film.
Danni works as a photographer for a digital media business. Her dream is to move up and become a writer. She knows enhancing her skills and becoming a journalist will benefit her life in many ways. Most of all, because she’s unhappy if she isn’t seen as accomplished, it’ll help with her online presence. She wants to be known, be seen and to matter. She also desperately wants to impress her family, friends and followers. More than anyone else, though, there’s a particular colleague at work, Colin (Dylan O’Brien), who she wants to notice her. Why is anybody’s guess. He’s arrogant and annoying.
After we read the ghastly comments flung at her, even by stars of stage and film, she looks at the camera and gives us a piece of advice, “Be careful what you ask for.” I’ll say! “Not Okay” is primarily a magnified example of what you can get from posting to your social media pages. In the days of the internet, you must be especially careful of what you do and what you say. There was a day when you could get away with making as many blunders as you’d like. Generally, the only people who would know that you messed up would be those who happened to be within sight of you when you made a mistake. Sadly, social media has taken away your right to make a faux pas, big or small, without it being splashed on every social outlet. Depending on the flub, there’s the possibility you could be ruined forever. This happens because everyone likes to watch a trainwreck, as long as they’re safe from the wreckage, of course. Again, to reiterate Danni’s words of warning, be careful you don’t find yourself hoping for too much. And if there’s a camera around, make sure you’re the one behind it.
Here, Danni purposely puts herself in front of one, her own. Wanting a little prestige, knowing this is how she’d get some, she fakes having to attend a writing retreat in Paris. She takes pictures of herself and adds images of Paris in the background. Unbeknownst to her, there’s about to be a terrorist attack in Paris while “she’s there.” Everyone she knows is now worried about her. This is something she decides to take advantage of. However, with everyone asking for details, what should she do? Should she continue to feign she was in France or come clean? If she’s going to keep the lie alive, she would need to make it sound convincing.
Needing to know what to say, she goes to a support group to hear people who’ve experienced real trauma. There, she meets a young woman named Rowan (Mia Isaac). She survived a school shooting and has PTSD. Rowan now speaks at rallies and pushes for gun reform. She likes Danni and schools her on how to survive what she went through. Touching on the theme again, Rowan also warns Danni that the internet is fickle and can turn on you in an instant. That may be the case, but it’s through Rowan that Danni has the publicity she has craved for so long. At the same time, she gets a type of little sister who cares for her. Danni has to post her images with Rowan and tell everyone about her new life.
As they have a way of doing, something goes wrong. Danni is at the top of her game when co-worker Harper (Nadia Alexander), decides to get in her way. Once likable, Danni is now detested. The movie is ending just as it had begun. The negative comments on social media show up again. At under two hours, the story’s ending and the performances bringing the yarn to life, make watching this worth the time you’ll be putting in. Pay attention to Mia Isaac. She’s a pure joy to watch, something we’ll be doing more often, I’m sure.
Written and Directed by: Quinn Shephard
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, Nadia Alexander and Mia Isaac
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Distributed by: Searchlight Pictures
Only on Hulu July 29