Movie Review: "Ingrid Goes West"
Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) feels isolated. She feels like a misfit so turns to social media to find a popular instagram personality. Ingrid begins talking to that personality online and finally thinks she has a real friend. When the instagram personality is getting married, Ingrid discovers she has not been invited to the wedding and (as a result) retaliates in a way that leads to her winding up in a mental institution.
Upon her release, Ingrid's mother passed away and leaves Ingrid with a small cash fortune. Ingrid also finds another popular instagram personality, named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), who lives in Los Angeles. This leads Ingrid to use her small fortune to move to Los Angeles and rent an apartment from Dan Pinto (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), who seems to genuinely be interested in Ingrid for who she is.
Now in Los Angeles, Ingrid intends on becoming friends with Taylor by going to the places that Taylor goes and buying the things that Taylor likes. When that does not work, Ingrid's desperation brings her on a journey of manipulation and lies as she jeopardizes her new relationships.
Official Red Band Trailer
The Pros & Cons
Aubrey Plaza (+8pts)
Mostly Uneventful (-8pts)
O'Shea Jackson Jr. (+4pts)
Moral of the Story (+10pts)
The End (-3pts)
Pro: Aubrey Plaza (+10pts)
Aubrey Plaza has become known for playing comedically dark and twisted characters, but she brings it up a notch in this film. Her character is comedically dark but there are plenty of moments in which she has to hit dramatic darkness. On the surface, it may not seem like these two things are very different (they are both just "darkness"), but each is intended to get a very different reaction from the audience.
The difference lies with the darkness' focus or intent. Comedic darkness aims to make the audience laugh, while dramatic darkness aims to tug at the audience's heart. Aubrey Plaza does a fantastic job at hitting both comedic and dramatic darkness, interchangeably, throughout this film. She does so in a way that feels so natural for the character that it is difficult to tell how great a job she did in this film (because it just felt so natural). That's something that any actor or actress should aim for. Aubrey Plaza nailed it.
Con: Mostly Uneventful (-8pts)
Unfortunately, the film is mostly uneventful. Ingrid stalks someone on instagram, moves out west (near where that person lives), stalks the person physically, and tries desperately to be friends with that person. That's the plot and, on paper, it sounds like it could be interesting. Then we see Ingrid eating, liking posts on instagram, getting her hair styled, reading a book, shopping, and more uninteresting activities.
The film takes a turn, about three quarters of the way in, where it suddenly becomes eventful. The moment happens so suddenly and it seems so out-of-place for the movie that I honestly believe the filmmakers realized how uneventful the script was so tried to cram some shocking moments in the end. That of course is just speculation, but it is the impression that I got.
Pro: O'Shea Jackson Jr. (+4pts)
O'Shea Jackson Jr. is easily one of the best parts of this film. He has some of the best comedic moments, his character is the most relatable in the film, and he has a great on screen presence. It is hard to know what to expect when the son or daughter of a big name celebrity, such as Ice Cube, hits the scene. Do they have what it takes or are they forced into the limelight because of who their parents are? This film can be dull and it is filled with unlikable characters, but O'Shea Jackson Jr. is refreshing. His character is the heart of this film and he does an outstanding job as such.
Con: Ingrid (-6pts)
One of this films biggest weaknesses was how unlikable Ingrid was. She is a socially awkward stalker, and somewhat of a psychopath. I do not want to get into specifics to avoid spoiler territory, but a lot of the things she says (and does) leaves the audience unsure if they should be on her side or not. She is pretty unrelatable and unlikable (at least for me) so I had a tough time getting behind her story. There are, however, a few elements to her character that are relatable.
She feels isolated, left-out, unappreciate, and feels like a misfit. These are things that are easy to relate to because everyone has felt like that at some point in their lives. Ingrid's problem (and what makes her unrelatable) is how she handles her issues. Stalking and manipulation are not how most people deal with their problems so, when she does it in the film, it alienates a lot of the audience.
Pro: Moral of the Story (+10pts)
The moral of this story is a moral that has been addressed in so many films before, "Be Yourself". Wear what you like, go where you like, do what you like, and surround yourself with people who like you for who you are. This film has a social media version of that story. Ingrid goes to "popular" places and gets "popular" things with "popular" people just to get more followers. I liked that element of the film because it shows just how fake people can be and how shallow life can become for those that behave that way online.
This film tells its audience a few things. It tells its audience to be skeptical of the things "popular" pages post online, because they may be shallow posts made for the sole purpose of getting likes/followers. It also tells its audience to be who you are both online and offline. This film focuses on an extremely overused message ("Be Yourself"), but it does so in a very modern way by noting that being yourself online can be just as important as being yourself offline.
Con: The End (-3pts)
I apologize for being so vague with this point, but my issue is with the end of the film and I do not want to spoil the end of the film (I am sure you can see my dilemma). Anyway, the end of this film could be a bit controversial. In the peak of Ingrid's desperation, she makes a very serious decision that can have some incredibly serious consequences. The result in the film, however, is both happy and sappy.
My problem is that this minimizes the seriousness of Ingrid's decision. It tells audiences that the decision can solve your problems. I realize that was not the intended message of the film, but if a troubled audience was viewing this film, it could very easily be taken the wrong way. Ingrid's decision should never be the answer to any problem and the film does a poor job of conveying that. Some have argued that it is crazy but it (the result of the film) could actually happen and the film was commenting on how crazy that is. I understand that, but it is not the impression I got from the film.
Grade: B- (82pts)
Ingrid Goes West is barely good. It has a fresh take on an overused message, in "Be Yourself". It is such an overused message, but looking at that message through the lens of "social media" gives the film a unique point of view. The film also has a fantastic performance from Aubrey Plaza. She is a proven comedic actress but this film is proof that she can nail dramatic performances with some pretty heavy material.
Unfortunately, this film is pretty uneventful (until the end) and us filled with unlikable characters (this includes Ingrid). The characters are primarily shallow social media personalities and the main character is a wannabe shallow social media personality. O'Shea Jackson Jr. is really the only likable character so he really becomes the heart of the film and is one of the films highlights.
This is a decent film but it leaves a lot to be desired. I can only recommend seeing this film if it hits Netflix, premium channels, or any medium that you do not have to spend more of your hard earned money,