“Ingrid Goes West”: Social Media Obsession to Extreme

The drama, directed by Matt Spicer, is the latest entry in the picturesque-mental-illness genre. Richard Brody, New Yorker, reviewing Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid Goes West as described on Rotten Tomatoes:

Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is an unhinged social media stalker with a history of confusing ‘likes’ for meaningful relationships. Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) is an Instagram-famous ‘influencer’ whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s latest obsession. When Ingrid moves to LA and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star’s life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF. Built around a brilliantly disarming performance from Aubrey Plaza, Ingrid Goes West (winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance) is a savagely hilarious dark comedy that satirizes the modern world of social media and proves that being #perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

In the trailer alone, Ingrid’s mental health is called into question several times:

More About Ingrid

Sheila O’Malley, rogerebert.com:

When we first meet Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), she is in the process of crashing a wedding and spraying Mace in the bride’s face as retaliation for not being invited. A little bit later we learn that the two women weren’t even friends. Ingrid was just obsessed with this woman’s Instagram feed, and felt they had a personal connection. A short time in a psych ward follows. Upon Ingrid’s release, she falls back into the old pattern. Life is not worth living without an object of desire.

Sandy Cohen, Associated Press

Plaza disappears into the unhinged Ingrid, a character exciting in her sheer unlikeability. She lies and steals to get what she wants. She exploits trust and kindness. But she brims with a deep human fear of inadequacy, one she hopes internet popularity might remedy. Plaza brings a vulnerability and desperation to Ingrid that makes her relatable. She’s obsessive and unstable, but she just wants to be liked, online or anywhere.

Social Media Obsession Theme

Sheila O’Malley, rogerebert.com:

‘Ingrid Goes West’ is a biting expose on How We Live Now: sitting on our phones, rote scrolling through someone else’s online life, clicking ‘Hearts’ without even taking a moment to absorb the image. The film lampoons stuff that didn’t even exist 10 years ago but has now become such a part of our everyday lives that no one takes a second to consider the potential negative effects. If everything is public, then where is the Self? Is turning yourself into a ‘brand’ really a good idea? If you don’t take a picture of it and – crucially – share it with the world, did it really happen?

Selected Reviews

Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times: “This is the real ‘Emoji Movie,’ a true horror story for our digital times. In the most acutely relatable ways and built around deft turns by Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, it skewers how we live and lurk these days in timelines fraught with angled sunlit selfies, artisanal avocado toasts and the FOMO-frothing torment of scrolling compulsively through other people’s bliss.”

Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter: “…(E)ven though this feature debut for director Matt Spicer, who co-wrote the script with David Branson Smith, is sort of all over the place, it’s still often sharply amusing, crisply assembled and features game, broad-brushstroke performances from leads Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, vaguely recreating Single White Female for the smartphone generation.”

Leah Greenblatt, ew.com:

…The lemur-eyed Plaza vibrates with manic intensity, and Olsen is a brilliantly hollow foil. Though strangely, it’s the men who feel most real: Ingrid’s stoner landlord-cum-boyfriend (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Taylor’s shaggy husband (Wyatt Russell), and Billy Magnussen as the ruthless party-boy brother who sees right through his sister’s new BFF. It’s too bad that in the end West doesn’t fully trust its own ugly truths, settling instead for a postscript so glibly, brightly #blessed.

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