A parable for the modern age of the dangers of social media, Ingrid Goes West is not only a highly topical film, but a bloody good one at that.
Ingrid Goes West (2017) is a black comedy drama written by David Branson Smith and director Matt Spicer (directorial debut). It stars Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid, an unhinged social media stalker that moves to LA in order to befriend Instagram star Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen).
Ingrid Goes West is the kind of film that we frankly need more of. It deconstructs, critiques and outright outlines the problems of living a life online in the age of social media that we currently experience, making it not only culturally relevant but a message too many people need to hear, and Ingrid manages to present it in an engaging and non-condescending manner.
The plot unravels as a deep dark rabbit hole that slowly envelopes Ingrid in a house of cards that is inevitably going to collapse. Director Spicer clearly has a solid enough grasp over both the social media at the core of the film and how to present it in a cinematically compelling way that’s easy to understand even for people not familiar with Instagram (case in point: me). The comedy styles of Ingrid may be pitch black, but it never ceases to make you laugh just as much as you grimace, while also accurately satirising those social media obsessors I’m sure everyone knows of at this point.
This feels like a role made for Aubrey Plaza. The go-to star for anyone slightly unhinged and sinister, Aubrey is just as perfect as you’d expect when hearing she’s playing a social media stalker. Everything from the thin veneer of normalcy she presents to simply the way she expresses so much meaning with a single look, this may be her best role in an already impressive cinematic career. Elizabeth Olsen continues a solid year after Wind River with another very solid performance. Never straying into parody, she manages to present an incredibly believable social media presence while also outlining the shallow and vapid aesthetics that come with it. Unfortunately, someone that does stray into parody is Billy Magnussen as Taylor’s brother. If Olsen is playing a social media presence from earth, he’s playing something from beyond the milky way galaxy and sadly goes so far into parody that not only is it aggravating but also incredibly distracting considering how integral to the plot he is. Other supporting characters from O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Wyatt Russell both fare much better as Ingrid’s landlord and Taylor’s partner, and do a great job grounding the film as the only two ‘non-social media types’ in the cast of characters.
Ingrid Goes West deserves to not only be shouted from the rooftops but also through everyone’s screen as a film people should watch to outline the dangers of living a life online. Pitch black and filled with (mostly) fantastic performances, Spicer has excelled for his directorial debut in making a great and much-needed parable for the modern social media age.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended