Ingrid Goes West, 2017.
Directed by Matt Spicer.
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Pom Klementieff, and Billy Magnussen.
After inheriting some money from her mother, a millennial heads out to California to try and befriend her Instagram idol.
Whether you care to admit it or not, social media plays a pretty important role in most of our lives these days. Whether it’s to stay in touch with family, keep up with our friends who live further afield, get invitations to events, or just for a good old fashion nose-around – the majority of us are, for want of a better word, addicted to social media to some degree.
Social media, however, comes with its own unique set of problems. As someone who works with teenagers on a daily basis, I witness the horrors that these platforms can create. The constant craving for more like and followers, the desperate need for validation and social status that seemingly only social media can supply you with. There are plenty of pros and cons to the rise of social media over the last decade and Ingrid goes West is out to tackle them in one of the most delightfully dark movies of 2017.
Aubrey Plaza takes on the titular role here, and ‘going west’ basically means heading out to California. However, Ingrid’s move to California is not because she wants to catch some rays and find an exciting new job. No. Ingrid’s quest is fuelled by one thing – a woman who she has become obsessed with him on Instagram. Elizabeth Olsen is Taylor Sloane – an Instagram influencer who, to the outside world, lives an idyllic life. She has an awesome relationship, a super cute dog, and she only eats organic food in the hippest of California’s various cafes. Ingrid doesn’t just want to befriend Taylor, she wants to be Taylor.
Ingrid Goes West is a difficult movie to place in terms of genre. It certainly has comedic elements to it – you don’t cast Aubrey Plaza in your lead role if you’re not chasing a few laughs along the way. At times, however, it can begin to feel like a horror. Watching Ingrid methodically draw a blueprint for her own life based on Taylor’s is chilling to watch and the movie does a great job of observing the way people can slowly become obsessed with others through the medium. She notes down tiny details, following them up by purchasing the same items or visiting the same locations as her ‘idol’. Director Matt Spicer also has a great eye for detail, noticing the tiny nuances and ticks many have us have developed since the dawn of this new medium.
Plaza is, of course, perfectly suited for the lead role here. She has become a master at playing comedic characters who are also slightly disturbed and Ingrid seems to be her most natural fit yet. While Ingrid is the focus of the movie, the rest of the cast deserves a mention here, too. Elizabeth Olsen hams it up delightfully as Taylor, while O’Shea Jackson Jr., of Straight Outta Compton fame, is hilarious as Ingrid’s Batman loving landlord.
The narrative of ‘Social media= bad, real life= good’ is nothing groundbreaking, but Ingrid Goes West explores these themes with such a delightfully sinister approach that it manages to go beyond being a simple tale of the dangers of social media. Watching Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza singing Cher in a car together, or Aubrey Plaza vaping with Ice Cube’s son after having sex dressed as Catwoman is about as zany as 2017 is going to get and the movie goes full throttle for the majority of its runtime.
The ending, however, is likely to divide viewers and the final 30 minutes of the movie definitely has a distinctly different tone to the 60 minutes that precede it. That being said, it all ties itself together well enough and while the destination may not be all that thrilling, the ride is well worth sticking around for.
Ingrid Goes West is a delightfully sinister parable for our times. A black mirror held up to us, exposing all the sinister, yet incredibly addictive aspects of our modern life on social media.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ /Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Liam Hoofe is a writer who lives in Madrid, you can follow him on Twitter @liamhoofe