There’s no shortage of satires trying to tackle our current digital age and Gen Z culture as a whole, but Not Okay stands out among the crowd due to its shades of grey. Where most films would create a character like Danni (Zoey Deutch), a typical Gen Z aspiring writer and influencer, and have us directly laugh at her and call that satire. But writer/director Quinn Shephard wisely delivers a biting, at-times dark, and sympathetic film that somehow finds the right notes between compassion and scathing for this generation. It’s even more impressive that Shephard pulls this off considering the moral nightmare Danni is put in within the first twenty minutes of the film.
Without getting into too many plot specifics in-case you plan on watching this film without seeing a trailer like I did, the first act finds Danni in the worst predicament – committing to the worst possible lie for the sake of clout and potentially profiting off the suffering of others.. OR come clean about a lie we told to make ourselves look good on social media? I’m simplifying this moral quandary extremely, but Not Okay somehow manages to explore this nightmare from the perspective of a person the audience should automatically hate the second she doubles down on her decision to tell such an insane lie.
However, on top of the sharp, biting screenplay at hand and a steady direction from Shephard, it’s really Zoey Deutch who does so much heavy lifting here. Deutch has always been an actor I’ve admired due to her range, but her ability to help humanity shine through such an insanely confusing and at times infuriating character proves her to be a genuinely fantastic talent. There are so many sequences where, on-paper, you want to hate Danni – but between the writing and Deutch’s subtlety, you continue to go along for the ride with her.
While this film may not be saying anything insanely new, it still feels enlightening due to the relevance of it all and will be relatable to anyone in their 20s at this present moment. It feels like one of the better satires in recent memory because it doesn’t forget to have a heart on top of the comedy and darker critiques of society as a whole.