Ingrid Goes West surprises in a way that you don’t see coming while bringing mental illness to the forefront in this social media-obsessed culture.
Directed by Matt Spicer from a screenplay written by David Branson Smith & Spicer, the film stars Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, and Pom Klementieff.
Social media isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be and Ingrid Goes West shows us a different take on social media than The Circle did earlier this year, one that examines it in many ways through mental illness. The film starts out with Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) scrolling through Instagram photos and finds out that Charlotte just got married and didn’t invite her to the wedding. Suffice it to say, she’s not happy about this, crashes the wedding, sprays Charlotte with pepper spray, and ends up in rehab. Ingrid, it seems, looks at “likes” as people wanting to be her friends.
She comes across a magazine profile on Taylor Sloane (Olsen) and checks out her Instagram and moves to LA. It turns out that Taylor is what people call an “influencer,” meaning she’s paid to post photos for product placement purposes. Ingrid wants to be her clone and ends up stalking her on Instagram. Clothing, hair, accessories, it doesn’t matter. Ingrid will do anything to get close to Taylor, even if it means kidnapping her dog and lying about it.
Once Ingrid gets to LA, she rents an apartment from Dan (Jackson Jr.), an aspiring screenwriter whose writing a Batman spec. If Ingrid’s the needy person and Taylor’s all-together, Dan is that person who is pure of soul.
In the first two acts, it’s solid comedy. The third act is where the film takes a darker turn and Ingrid reveals her true intentions. When Taylor’s brother, Nicky (Magnussen), steals Ingrid’s phone and looks through it, he decides to blackmail her. Ingrid uses her landlord boyfriend Dan to kidnap Nicky and leave him for dead. The kidnapping doesn’t exactly work out and Ingrid finds that Taylor is ignoring her calls.
After buying the house next door with all the money leftover from her inheritance, Ingrid decides to confront them. For Ingrid, it’s a re-run of the Charlotte fiasco at the beginning of the film. Showing us the power of social media, Ingrid tapes a video that turns out to be her suicide video. It goes viral. If Dan didn’t see it and call the police, she’d be a goner.
It’s a darker comedy than The Little Hours, released earlier this summer, but Plaza delivers a strong performance from a very strong script. Olsen proves that she can be a comedy force just like her older twin sisters and not just an actress who is limited to performances in dramas and comic book movies. Both bring very different styles to the film with how they prepare for scenes. Plaza comes from an improv background so it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were a gazillion takes with her saying different lines.
This was Spicer’s feature debut and it’s a solid outing for the first try.
Neon opens Ingrid Goes West on August 18, 2017.