Running Time: 1 Hour 38 Minutes
Director: Matt Spicer
Ingrid Goes West opens with the Instagram posts and captions of your typical insta girl, Charlotte. It is Charlottes wedding day- and she isn’t afraid to post about it.
Our hero, Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), watches the proceedings as they unfold on instagram. She has not been invited- and she is distraught.
One ruined wedding later- Ingrid is sectioned and sent to a mental hospital. Ingrid is the inevitable result of our social media obsessed culture. Insecure and full of self doubt, she clings to the idea that she can be like- or even be friends with- the girls she sees living seemingly perfect lives on Instagram.
After Ingrid is discharged and slapped with a restraining order against Charlotte, she sets her sights on another insta model- Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen). Determined to become Taylor’s new best friend, she takes all of her inheritance and moves to LA.
In LA, Ingrid Goes West really begins. Ingrid starts to worm her way into Taylor’s world- going extreme in her attempts to become Taylor’s friend. However, the more integrated she becomes, the more phoney this world starts to appear.
Prior to watching Ingrid Goes West I was afraid that Aubrey Plaza was being type cast in funny/tough girl roles of the Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates ilk.
However, I needn’t of worried. Plaza gives an utterly convincing dramatic performance (with her trademark comedy slant of course). I was disturbed by her darker moments, and genuinely sorry for her at her lowest- but able to laugh with her, resonate with her and understand why she does the things she does.
The characters of Taylor’s LA are weird and wonderful- her drug addict and frankly insane brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) and his fashion blogger girlfriend Harley (Pom Klementieff), her struggling artist husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell) (whose art consists of spray painting hashtags like ‘squad goals’ on period paintings he’s picked up in flea markets) and her Joshua Tree crew. However, it is the relationship Ingrid forms outside of this insta-world that the audience will become invested in. Her landlord and love interest Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr) is the most genuine character by far- and Jackson makes a power comedy pairing with Aubrey Plaza. The chemistry is there, and the scenes between these two are like a breeze of fresh air compared to the intense albeit comedic ‘instagram stalk gone too far’ storyline.
Ingrid Goes West is the definition of a modern film. It focuses on modern technology and the way our lives are shaped by our ever growing online presence.
The problem I’ve had in the past with films that try and identify with modern technologies, is that the films themselves take on this shape. We have split screen face times, and texts showing on screen like subtitles. This tends to distract from the storyline and most of the time it feels like it wasn’t the film makers intention to break the forth wall, but they do. In short, they try too hard.
However, Ingrid Goes West manages to avoid this trope of the ‘modern’ film. It plays out like any regular chick flick/drama and allows you to really get involved in the story. The issues here are relevant and real. On more than one occasion I found my self thinking that I was guilty of something I saw on screen. Whilst this is a film that takes its themes to the extreme it is definitely relatable.
Who hasn’t had a cheeky stalk of someone else’s Instagram? Who hasn’t posted a photo just to get likes or comments? Who doesn’t present the best version of themselves on social media- with the secret intention of showing off, or inspiring envy?
All of the above, as with social media crimes- are so often girl on girl. This is what this film gets totally right. This isn’t about a girl trying to get a guy- this is about a girl who lacks self confidence, and becomes convinced she has to be like every ‘perfect’ Instagram girl she sees on a daily basis. The reality, of course, is that life is never as perfect as we present on social media. The conclusion- this doesn’t stop our obsessive desire to present the lie anyway.