Director: quinn shepard
Writer: quinn shepard
Stars: Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien and Mia Isaac
Synopsis: An ambitious young woman finds a following and fame when she poses as the survivor of a deadly attack, but soon discovers that online notoriety comes at a terrible price.
Every year we get this kind of sarcastic satire and each time it’s a reminder of the miracle that Michael Bay is. pain and gain. It’s a mystery how he pulled it off, but that film is quite masterful as a ridiculous spoof that never deviates from its over-the-top tone and style. Even when things get absurdly out of control, she leans into his excessive behavior and the result is wildly entertaining.
Not well it’s got its heart in all the right places, but it’s frustratingly uneven as satire. Regardless of whether his humor works, and it’s mostly unpredictable, there’s no questioning his commitment to the parody he intends. Danni (played wonderfully by Zoey Deutch) works for a magazine called Depravity (no obvious comments there) and is an aspiring writer even though she’s a photo editor. One of her coworkers, Colin (Dylan O’Brien playing Thirst Trap) is somewhat popular and she has her eye on him. In her attempts to get her attention and that of the world in general, she uses Photoshop as a “work” trip to Paris to gain influence. However, a tragic bombing takes place in Paris and, to continue the lie, she despicably exploits the trauma to gain the empathy of everyone around her. Throughout all of this, Not well it’s a clear mockery of influence chasing and the lengths people go to for attention.
Danni is tasked with writing a story about her “experience” for Depravity and it ends up going viral. She brings her fame and the shallowness she craves, including the attention of her crush Colin. Ironically, though, Danni’s night with Colin isn’t exactly what she imagined. There’s a clear turning point after this, where things take a drastic turn in terms of tone and style. this is where Not well it starts to get lost as it builds into poignant drama for the rest of the film. And in another weird twist, it actually works best as a biting drama.
Shortly after Danni became famous for her #IAmNotOkay movement, she connects with another young woman named Rowan (played by newcomer Mia Isaac). Rowan is a survivor of a school shooting and has become a leader in her own anti-gun movement. They become good friends and connect through their shared experiences. This is further intensified when Danni realizes the futility of pursuing her influence after her date with Colin. However, it doesn’t take long for Danni’s lie to begin to unravel and the conflict that ensues between Danni and Rowan is truly moving.
And so, we are left with many questions. First of all, what kind of movie does Not well want to be? Because it goes very hard as an absurd satirical comedy along the lines of pain and gain in his first act. But then it wants to be an uncompromising social drama about the gruesome nature of deceitful victimization. Is it about the volatile nature of social media? The nebulous allure of FOMO? Is it about depression and loneliness? Is it about the idea that it’s okay not to be okay? Is it… about gun violence in America? For a film whose plot is fundamentally based on a terrorist attack in France, it somehow becomes a commentary on guns in the United States. the problem with Not well it is that he does not know what he wants to do with his ideas or how to execute them with his protagonist. The film is thematically overloaded and tonally mixed. It basically acts like four different movies in one experience and uses 11 different thematic threads in the process.
There’s no denying the toxicity of influence chasing and how disturbing it has become, but sadly that idea in this film is as hollow as the subject matter it tackles. At some point, social media isn’t even a big factor in the movie. It means well, but the lack of commitment eventually stifles whatever momentum it gained as satire or drama. With that being said though, Mia Isaac is a star and she steals the show. She is excellent in the way that she portrays anxiety and pain. As a social media influencer and vocal leader, she is magnetic. There are some monologues from Rowan and they pulse with energy and conviction. She should be on everyone’s list for breakout performances of 2022. Zoey Deutch is great too. She has a wonderful ability to heighten uncomfortable tension and make it alluring.
Not well It’s not a bad movie per se, it’s just an unfocused movie. When it works as sarcastic satire, it’s effective. When it acts as a moving drama, it is even more effective. The two don’t mesh very well, but there are singularly good things here. Pick a lane and maybe lose some of those themed chains and this could have been great. However, as it stands, it’s… just fine.
Grade – C
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