“Ingrid Goes West” is a desperately funny movie about the mindset of a tragic social media addict. It’s not all gags and gaffs of social media faux pas; “Ingrid Goes West” is like a vice grip that starts to crush you with ‘realness’ (thanks Kanye).
When we’re introduced to Ingrid, you could say that she’s not reacting well to not being invited to a a friend’s wedding. In reality we watch Ingrid obsessively stalk a girl on Instagram. When Ingrid isn’t selected to be part of her series of beautifully captured, filtered and labelled moments she crashes the wedding and maces the bride in the face. After a stint in rehabilitation the film glances past Ingrid’s lonely reality. The daughter of a recently departed mother, housebound with illness to the end, Ingrid’s life is in the device in the palm of her hand and her desperately misguided interpretations of friendships. When she returns from rehab and receives a life insurance inheritance, she finds a new subject of infatuation and decides that her inheritance is best spent creating her perfect life.
The film fosters a sort of amnesia of the opening moments because you’re slightly reeling from the bitter pill of Ingrid’s loneliness. Director and co-writer Matt Spicer does a great job of portraying the allure of the iPhone portal to a more glamorous and satisfying life. Forget what’s happening in contemporary America, all of the characters are blissfully scrolling through an in an Instagram feed or navigating the status obsessed L.A bubble. Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith make Ingrid Thorburn the ultimate instant gratification consumer. As Ingrid, an in form Plaza, agonisingly crafts her replies she’s often stuffing her face with fast food. Once she’s locked into her new role model, Elizabeth Olsen’s Taylor Stone, she obsessively eats where she eats, shops where she shops, gets her hair done where she does. Smith and Spicer capitalise on the hilarity of that desperation and of Ingrid, and taps into the audience’s own mildly obsessive curation of Instagram, or that crafting of the perfect tweet. Perhaps let he who is without tweets from the toilet cast the first stone. The story suffers in the extremities of Ingrid’s actions; disappointingly taking her actions to the plausibility limit.
Plaza has become a go to performer for sexually outrageous or extreme comedic performances. Ingrid forces her to flex those under-utilised acting muscles like sensitivity, insecurity and desperately seeking approval. Olsen does a great job with Taylor, pulling back the curtain of the grind of an Insta-celeb. Ingrid’s antagonist is Taylor’s (Olsen) brother Nicky Sloane - played by Billy Magnussen. Magnussen does a great job of playing both an infuriating douche bag or poster boy for the rich kids of Instagram and a perceptive sly scavenger. There’s an implicit and constant hustle to his life and instead of being blissfully unaware of his surroundings, he’s on the lookout for angles, advantages and opportunities to exploit.
The ‘MVP’ of “Ingrid Goes West” is O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Dan Pinto. Jackson is the surprise leading man of the piece as the Batman (particularly “Batman Forever”) obsessed budding screenwriter and Ingrid’ landlord. When Ingrid tells her friends that she has a boyfriend, she uses Dan as an excuse and eventually makes a reality of that falsehood. Jackson’s surprise leading man is a complete scream and watching his kinks in the form of Gotham bedroom characters and dirty talk will make your inner Bat-perve soar.
“Ingrid Goes West” is filmmakers Smith and Spicer going ‘behind the filter’ on social media obsession and disarming you with humour. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, but don't you dare look at your phone.
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.