“Not Okay” Film Review


Trinity Gilreath, Staff Reporter

“Not Okay” is a dark comedy written and directed by Quinn Shephard in her sophomore feature. Zoey Deutch stars as Danni Sanders, an aspiring writer who fakes a trip to Paris as a way to impress Colin, her co-worker who is an internet celebrity. She creates many doctored images of herself at famous Parisian landmarks to corroborate her lie, including the Arc de Triomphe, which is bombed minutes later as a part of a series of terrorist attacks. Instead of coming clean, Danni decides to lie about witnessing the attack, and as a result, she gains widespread attention. The film is a satirical take on white privilege and influencer culture, which for the most part, does a great job portraying. 

The film starts with a content warning, alerting us of flashing lights, themes of trauma, and “an unlikable female protagonist,” which brings up a point of how irredeemable male characters are received compared to female protagonists, who are usually not half as bad. However, this point was lost by many audience members who found the content warning to be offensive and misogynistic. Danni is a wealthy white woman who uses the trauma of others as a way to gain celebrity while not feeling an ounce of remorse even after she is caught. However, in comparison to characters like Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho” (2000) and “Fight Club’s” Tyler Durden, who are well-liked despite their VERY apparent flaws, Danni and other female characters, who are perceived as unlikeable, receive more criticism. This isn’t to say that all female characters are to go without criticism, even when it’s deserved, but to point out that female characters are held to a higher standard than their male counterparts.

Something that adds a bit of humanity to Danni is the sisterly bond she forms with Rowan, a mass shooting survivor turned activist, who she meets in a survivor group that Danni joins to help support her lie. While Danni is initially drawn to Rowan because of her social media following, she begins to care deeply for Rowan, just not enough to feel bad for lying. Rowan is an exceptionally written character played fantastically by Mia Issac in only her second role. The character is by far the only likable person in this movie. It’s heartbreaking watching her begin to see Danni as a sister after losing her older sister to the same school shooting she experienced, knowing it’s all built on a lie. Her words inspire the hashtag that launches Danni as a micro-celebrity. She never credits Rowan and even takes away her opportunity to talk about her sister for the first time. In the final scene, Rowan delivers a speech directed toward Danni that is just as heartbreaking as it is powerful. 

The reason I was interested in this film was because of its very accurate costuming of Gen-Z fashion. Danni, a self-proclaimed “zillenaial,” wears an assortment of microtrends that were very popular during the film’s production including her nails and hairstyle. Danni has no originality in her styling, with all of her outfits coming off as something I had seen on Tiktok or Pinterest in 2020-21. This is entirely intentional on the part of costume designer Sarah Laux, as it mirrors Danni’s lack of personality. She wears popular things, which, when combined, create outfits that look dated. Her style also reflects her loneliness as she changes her style to impress whomever she is after. At the beginning of her story, she wears trendy clothing seen by internet celebrities in  2020, which is her way of appealing to the influencer Colin she has a crush on. After losing attraction to Colin, she becomes closer to Rowan and begins to emulate her street style, specifically during the same rally she takes over.  The styling of Dylan O’Brien’s Colin takes inspiration from MGK, Pete Davidson, Zayn Malik, and plenty of other male celebrities with his bleached blonde hair and awful tattoos. “Not Okay” is a great example of contemporary styling being done right.

Overall, “Not Okay” was a solid satirical comedy with stellar performances from Deutch, Issac, and O’Brien. I think the film managed to get its point across without being too on the nose. I enjoyed this film, and if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you will too. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of dark comedies.