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Ingrid Goes West (2017)
Directed By: Matt Spicer
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell
Rating: R for Language Throughout, Drug Use, Some Sexual Content and Disturbing Behavior.
Running Time: 1 Hour 38 Min
A darkly comedic story revolving around Ingrid Thorburn, a young woman whom becomes obsessed with Instagram star Taylor Sloane, and moves to Los Angeles in order to become part of her life, no matter what the cost.
Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza, “Safety Not Guaranteed”) sits crying in her car, scrolling through Instagram, looking at the photos posted by a woman named Charlotte (Meredith Hanger). It’s Charlotte’s wedding day. “#perfect”, the photo is captioned, “#blessed.” Ingrid is furious. She gets out of her car, mascara streaming down her face. We realize she’s been sitting directly outside of the wedding she’s been social-media stalking. She charges at the bride and pepper sprays her for not inviting her to her wedding. Shortly after she’s tackled.
After getting out of a mental institution Ingrid runs into Charlotte at the grocery store. Charlotte, on the phone, speaks loudly, saying that she and Ingrid were never really friends. Ingrid leaves the store and keys Charlotte’s car. Shortly after, Ingrid is looking through a magazine and comes across an article detailing the life of Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen, “Captain America: Civil War”), an Insta-icon living in LA.
Intrigued, Ingrid investigates her Instagram, and comments on a photo. Taylor responds not long after and Ingrid lights up with joy. This little bit of recognition is all Ingrid needs- it’s a piece of floating driftwood for her to cling to after her ship has been battered to bits by a storm. Cling to it, she does. Ingrid withdraws $62,000, an inheritance from her mother, and immediately moves to Los Angeles.
Ingrid rents a house from a friendly landlord, Dan Pinto, (O’Shea Jackson, Jr., “Straight Outta Compton”) before scoping out all of Taylor's favorite spots. Eventually, Ingrid runs into Taylor at a bookstore, but after a brutally awkward attempt at conversation, she leaves unnoticed, feeling unimportant. She decides that more drastic measures need to taken, so she steals Taylor’s dog and holds it until she finds a flyer offering a reward. Ecstatic, Ingrid calls the number listed, and speaks to Taylor's husband (played by Wyatt Russell, “Cold in July”), saying that she found their dog. After bringing the dog to Taylor's home, Ingrid refuses the reward and is instead asked to stay for dinner. From there, Taylor and Ingrid form a tenuous relationship.
As the story goes on, Ingrid becomes closer to Taylor, but her jealous need for attention slowly eats away at her. Any attention Taylor gives to anyone else becomes poison to Ingrid. As the story progresses it’s darkly humorous tone shifts into something more sinister, but it still retains it’s fun disposition. This movie is first and foremost a comedy, but a very dark comedy at that; there are some tense moments, but it never takes itself too seriously. It’s this balance that makes the movie stand out; walking the fine line of creepy and funny is hard to do, but “Ingrid” succeeds admirably.
Plaza and Olsen do great jobs of bringing to light different views and takes on social media. Olsen’s character has an established Instagram following, and to an extent, she lets the following rule her life. She forces her husband, and sometimes even strangers, to retake pictures. She even makes Plaza pose in different ways to make her look better. And while Plaza has virtually no online audience, she still allows social media to dictate her every move- she drops everything at the slightest hint of acknowledgment. This film takes a very real look at what kind of power social media can have over people.
Both of them are incredibly talented actresses, but it’s Plaza who really steals the scene here; her creepy-but-still-likeable portrayal of Ingrid is probably one of the best roles I’ve personally seen her in. Olsen does a great job as well, but her character wasn’t given as much depth as Plaza; though it is interesting to watch Olsen carefully cultivate her public Instagram personality.
The film is extraordinarily entertaining, though at times, it's slightly predictable. For me, it was a fresh take on the tried and true ‘stalker’ story. We know Ingrid is unhinged from the beginning; it’s only a matter of time before something goes awry. The commentary on social media’s affect on modern society was well done, though this concept has become rather worn over the past couple of years. I feel like we’ve plenty of ‘social media = bad’ films popping up in genres across the board.
I think that perhaps the thing that makes this film stand out the most is its ability to walk the line of funny and creepy. Many dark comedies try to toe this line and either end up loosing their humor and becoming too serious, or loosing their bite and becoming rather bland. As a result, some dark comedies end up feeling like an awkward conglomerate of two movies messily shoved under one roof, rather than a beautifully blended marriage of two genres. This movie succeeds where other dark comedies don’t. It’s a movie well worth your time; it’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you feel for both Ingrid and Taylor, and it might even make you look at social media a little differently.
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