Unhappy and unstable Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) moves to California to stalk her latest Instagram fixation, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), whose picture-perfect West Coast life has garnered a considerable following.
Winner of Best Screenplay at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Ingrid Goes West is a brilliantly observed and stylish dark comedy that takes a very cultivated approach to the problems of social media.
Director Matt Spicer has assembled an excellent young cast. Elizabeth Olsen is perfectly cast as ‘social media influencer’ Taylor, while Aubrey Plaza is at her best since Parks and Recreation. Plaza has more to work with than her previous film roles and portrays Ingrid’s mental illness very adeptly. However, it is O’Shea Jackson Junior, known for playing his father in Straight Outta Compton, who is the standout. He plays Dan Pinto, Ingrid’s landlord and a Batman-obsessed ‘screenwriter’. His proud and unconcealed love for all things Batman plays as a nice contrast to the other characters’ veneer of style and sophistication.
Rather than using the easy target of Instagram fame to mock its characters, the film takes a discerning look at the dangers and inherent vanity of the social media platform. While Spicer treats the façade fashioned by the app with disdain, he does not condemn his characters for falling into its trap.
Olsen’s Taylor treats people with varying levels of respect depending on their number of followers, while her husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell) ‘earns’ a living by emblazoning slogans over classical artwork. Spicer identifies the ridiculousness of this, but is far more interested in examining how social media takes such a hold than laughing at those who let it.
Don’t be fooled by its lightweight trailer, Ingrid Goes West is a brilliantly acted and pertinent film that treats the problems of social media in a perceptive and thought-provoking manner.