THE STORY – Following the death of her mother and a series of self-inflicted setbacks, young Ingrid Thorburn escapes a humdrum existence by moving out West to befriend her Instagram obsession, a Los Angeles socialite named Taylor Sloane. After a quick bond is forged between these unlikeliest of buddies, the facade begins to crack in both women’s lives — with comically malicious results.
THE CAST – Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, Billy Magnussen, Wyatt Russell, Pom Klementieff & O’Shea Jackson Jr.
THE TEAM – Matt Spicer (Director/Writer) & David Branson Smith (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 97 Minutes
By Matt N.
You know when you hear an older person comment how technology and social media is destroying the youth of today? All of those fears are found within “Ingrid Goes West” which takes a hard look at our obsession with social media and how it has become a tool to help push those who are lonely towards mental illness. If Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver” had an iPhone, that would be a pretty good summary of what “Ingrid Goes West” is commenting on. It’s a character piece, first and foremost before it becomes a preachy social comment on society. Backed by a tremendous leading performance from Aubrey Plaza and some of the most awkward humor you’ll see in a movie all year, “Ingrid Goes West” is a wonderful debut for writer/director Matt Spicer.
After the death of her mother, Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is now truly alone. A compulsive Instagram lurker, she likes every photo she sees and every now and then, will choose someone to be her best friend. She will go to great lengths to make herself a part of this person’s life at any cost in an effort to feel less alone. Her next potential best friend is Instagrammer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) who Ingrid finds in a magazine and comments on one of her food photos one evening. She receives a simple reply and it’s enough for her to drop her life, take her inheritance money and move out west to Los Angeles where she forces herself into Taylor’s life along with her husband, the struggling artist Ezra (Wyatt Russell). Along the way, she meets Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), her landlord and an aspiring screenwriter who has a healthy and harmless obsession with Batman. He befriends her and may be the only one who accepts Ingrid for who she truly is. However, with Ingrid always emulating the person she hones all of her energy upon, the question becomes “Who is Ingrid Thorburn really?”
Most people will know Aubrey Plaza from her role on “Parks And Recreation” or her bit roles in various comedy films. Here, she is given the chance to shine unlike we have ever seen her before, in all of her glorious awkwardness and depression. “Ingrid Goes West” is an examination of a character who is not teetering on the edge of madness. When the film starts, it is made clear to us that she has already lost her mind. Her obsessive personality and desire to feel wanted, to be loved (Not romantically but simply as a friend) is both heartbreaking and disturbing. Spicer luckily doesn’t overwhelm us with the film’s darkness, choosing to sprinkle fantastic beats of humor throughout. Whether it be through Aubrey Plaza’s fantastic performance or how others react to her, the humor found within “Ingrid Goes West” has the power to make the most stoic individual squirm with uncomfortableness.
“Ingrid Goes West” works as a character study and as a twisted take on our reliance on social media to feel accepted. Matt Spicer’s screenplay (Which he wrote along with co-writer David Branson Smith) is balanced up until the third act where the mechanics of a relationship between Ingrid and her landlord Dan begin to take over the narrative leading to some odd choices and their consequences. It may not be a perfect film but as far as debuts go, Spicer has created a dark comedy filled with memorable moments, characters and themes that he can be proud of. We may get a rush when we receive a comment, like or share. I’ll probably receive the same feeling if anyone reads this review. However, Spicer’s film reminds us of the dangers of relying on the acknowledgment and acceptance which social media grants us and that we must not rely on it to feel whole.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – A truly remarkable performance from Aubrey Plaza. A well balanced screenplay in terms of its humor and darkness.
THE BAD – Third act falters due to its character’s decisions which ring untrue.