Not Okay Review – Resonating Story, Strong Character Driven Performances

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Not Okay, from Searchlight Pictures, presents a contemporary dilemma that millions confront as they find their self-worth tied up on social media, where every follower is an adrenaline shot, and the name of the game is fame.

The film begins in Brooklyn, L-Train Brooklyn, where pseudo-intellectuals gather around computers boosting of their writing prowess. This is where we meet Danni Sanders, played by Zoey Deutch, an aspiring writer, and in the city where everyone needs to have a "character" to be considered somebody, she is herself, navigating her aspirations, trying to fit in to the cultures and communities that surround her. Her efforts come off as entitled, and she is, essentially, a pariah even before her huge social media melt down.

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Her peers, in her eyes, each have what she believes she lacks in this social media crazed world: Followers and therefore the ability to gain access into the inner circle of influencer, which brings more followers, fame, glamour, and the guy of her dreams, Colin, played by Dylan O'Brien, who can't walk down the street without fans showing their appreciation. Danni sees him, and essentially everyone and everything else, as a ticket to her own success.

After another harsh day at the office, she happens to meet up with Colin and while he trips over her name and where they've met, and after a couple of hits of the supersize, multi-stack, joint, he offers, her mind closes, and she tries to hit all the right words to pull his attention away from his cellphone and into her world.

This leads to a drug induced idea which hits all the right influencer and Instagram notes, chosen for a writer's retreat in Paris! This, of course, becomes the catalyst to sudden Instagram and influencer fame, and after the man of her dreams hits her up on the 'gram her ruse is full-blown. Pictures of Paris, of the Arc de Triumph, the Champs Elysées, the Eiffel Tower, croissants, Oui the life! All the while she is home in Brooklyn, believing that she can exit this lie as simply as it began.

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And possibly she could have if disaster had not struck, and the City of Lights suffers a terrifying terrorist attack. She suddenly became the heroine in her own story and what was a simple lie, begins to unravel, taking her deeper into the rabbit hole with no way out.

While the first act of the film is filled with 20 something need-based angst, the end of the film brings home a strong moral of the story: On your path to enlightenment, the 12-step fixer-upper, you can't always fix those deep wounds inflicted on others.

Not Okay plays out a sad story through so many parallels, a bad idea conjured up on a lonely night, a "sign" suddenly transforms into cosmic "blessing" of the planned deceit, becoming so absorbed in the duplicity that truth's alarm clock is switched off, and, worse, compounding the original lie by hurting others who had suffered extreme injuries and were in recovery.

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Not Okay tackles gun violence and the aftermath many survivors face when they confront the silent ghosts of haunting horrific memories that refuse to leave and can be triggered seemingly and unceasingly, without provocation.

The ensemble cast deliver strong performances that resonate. The story is well written and relatable weaving issues of social importance, even without the big message, and presents an undercurrent of obvious difficulties Gen Z's are facing and how they find acceptance and escape.

Not Okay streams exclusively in Hulu beginning July 29, 2022. See it.

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Country: USA.

Language: English, American slang.

Runtime: 111minutes.

Director: Quinn Shephard.

Producer: Brad Weston, Caroline Jaczko.

Writer: Quinn Shephard.

Cast: Zoey Deutch, Mia Isaac, Embeth Davidtz, Nadia Alexander, Tia Dionne Hodge, Negin Farsad, Dylan O'Brien.

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