Review: Ingrid Goes West
Over the last few years as a society, social media has become more and more prevalent. In some ways, it can be a wonderful thing. Sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all make it possible to stay in contact with friends all around the world. Yet, that can be a great thing but also a very dangerous tool. Ingrid Goes West shows how those sites can be toxic. More and more people have become obsessed with their social standing on these sites or flat out become completely infatuated with someone they don't even know. This films main theme takes a hard look about how social media can promote envy and the illusion of connectivity in some of the darkest, and more dramatic of ways.
The plot follows Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), a mentally unstable young woman that obsesses over random people on Instagram who has a series of self-inflicted setbacks that involved going to a mental ward and the death of her mother found her life in a free fall. Ingrid then comes across her next obsession in a Los Angeles socialite Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), she finds Taylor on Instagram and immediately begins to change her life to emulate that of Taylor in order to be accepted by her. This leads Ingrid to take her mother's inheritance of 60,000 dollars and uproot her life to Los Angeles to befriend Taylor after having zero contact with one another. Upon arrival, she rents a house nearby to where Taylor lives so that she can keep a close eye and hope for a chance encounter with her obsession. Eventually they do, and they become fast friends due to Ingrid knowing everything about her. Ingrid finds out that Taylor isn't exactly the person she portrays herself to be on social media and isn't perfect as she thought causing Ingrid to once again go into a spiral.
At first glance, I thought this film would have an interesting story while taking a look at some hard truths about social media but ultimately sell out in favor of some cheap easy laughs. Instead, the film really pushes how far social media can hurt someone. Aubrey Plaza has continued to show her range and this film she shows a crazier side, but beyond that she is a person that craves acceptance. Her character craves acceptance so much that she goes to such extreme measures to try to feel that. Another surprise in the film would be that of O'Shea Jackson. He is minor role, playing Dan Pinto an aspiring screenwriter who has an obsession with Batman but Pinto shapes out to be the most likable and relatable character. Often times you even hope he pulls away from Ingrid and Taylor just so he doesn't get pulled into their crazy web. Ultimately, Jackson has great comedic timing, but also a depth to him. Writer and director Matt Spicer crafted a very intriguing and dark satire of contemporary communication and the illusion of friendship over the internet. The film had a much stronger second half over it's first half which felt a bit awkward, admittedly this was intentional.
The film could have been a lot better if twenty minutes were shaved off of the run time. It bogs down a bit in the second act and at times shys away from taking a leap and truly pushing the envelope on the dangers of what obsession can do to a person. Mid way through the film it even changes from being a dark satire to that of a film looking for some laughs. The tone change is a bit jarring, and then it changes back to being a dark satire once again. Plaza's co-star, Elizabeth Olsen is also terrific in this film. She plays the socialite Taylor Sloane as if it is herself. It is completely within the realm of belief to see her as this person, but also with a deep seated hatred for herself and desire for something else. She portrays it all so well and plays off of Plaza perfectly. I wanted to like the film more then I did, but the bloated run time and change in tone is rather jarring. Still with that in mind, Matt Spicer crafted a well thought out film.