Ingrid Goes West review: Matt Spicer makes his directorial debut with this film about an unhinged social media stalker moves to LA and insinuates herself into the life of an Instagram star.
Ingrid Goes West review by Tina Baraga.
#Perfect. That’s the best way to describe Aubrey Plaza’s performance in Matt Spicer’s feature film debut Ingrid Goes West, a story about a troubled and social media-obsessed girl whose goal is to achieve an Instagram worthy life.
When we meet Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) she is distraught, drenched in her own tears and neurotically scrolling through the Instagram wedding photos of her friend. Needless to say, she was not invited to the wedding. It is only after a pepper spray related attack that we learn this friendship was a mere online delusion, the beginning of Ingrid’s descent into darkness. Dealing with the loss of her mother, Ingrid quickly finds a new fixation in the form of Los Angeles socialite and influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). As the title suggests, Ingrid leaves her humdrum existence and goes west in search of her new friends and that oh-so-elusive filter fabricated happiness.
Through a series of top-notch online stalker tactics (including following Taylor to her favourite restaurant and breaking into her house to kidnap her dog) Ingrid manages to befriend Taylor and immerse herself into her glamorous healthy-eating, Joshua-Tree-weekending, Joan-Didion-quoting LA life. But Ingrid cannot keep her Insta-happiness going for long when her lies slowly start to unravel and she is left grasping at straws, with the help of her Batman-obsessed landlord Dan, brilliantly portrayed by O’Shea Jackson Jr.
As much a film about the dark side of social media as the trouble of fitting in, Ingrid Goes West finds a great balance between mocking and compassion. Memorable scenes include Taylor asking a car mechanic to lie on the floor in order to achieve that perfect and “natural” snap and Ingrid ordering the latest health-craze meal just to spit it out and get fries instead (not before taking a photo of the said meal of course). While it is easy to dismiss Ingrid’s behavior as crazy (some of it really is though), it is scary when you find yourself relating to some of her more mellow behavior traits.
It may come as no surprise to anyone that Taylor’s picture-perfect life is not so perfect after all. From her alcoholic husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell) to her drug addict brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) one only needs to scratch slightly below the surface to find the cracks in her otherwise perfectly manufactured life.
The person who finally cracks is, in fact, Ingrid, although perhaps not exactly as you would expect her to, finally getting her social media fame when she lets the world see the real her. Authenticity seemed to be the key all the way, although she does have to take some drastic measures to get there. In a very weird and twisted way, Ingrid Goes West teaches us the age-old lesson, to just be yourself.
Ingrid Goes West review by Tina Baraga at the BFI London Film Festival, 2017.
Ingrid Goes West will be released in the UK on 17 November.