Ingrid Goes West
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Ingrid Thorburn has a problem. It’s not that she scrolls through social media innumerable times a day, and it’s not that she recently lost her mother. Her problem is that her ‘friends’ never reciprocate her affection. Never mind the fact she’s contacted these strangers over social media platform Instagram—for Ingrid, a ‘like’ is akin to a hug, and a comment is a proclamation of lifelong friendship.
Does that sound like a far-fetched scenario? Well it’s not, when you consider that 2.28 billion people use social media worldwide; and in this snappy satire we see just how blurred the line between cyber reality and real life has become for so many of us.
Recently released from rehab after assaulting a ‘friend’ (aka her latest obsession), Ingrid (Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza) comes across the latest Instagram superstar. Her name is Taylor Sloane (The Avenger’s Elizabeth Olsen), and with a few clicks, a quick stalk of her favourite locations and a trip to the bank, Ingrid runs away from her old life to start afresh. Her number one goal: become Taylor Sloane’s best friend.
It would be easy to call this a coming-of-age film, as Ingrid tries to redefine herself as a California girl and pushes away anyone remotely interested in the real her. However, this witty flick is a better commentary on the foibles of creating, curating and living out an inauthentic life.
Ingrid is the extreme all of us: the unsure, self-conscious individual who just wants to belong. Plaza plays her with deft nuance, wavering effortlessly between insecurity and a psychotic and aggressive need to be affirmed by her idol.
Then there is the object of her affection: Elizabeth Olsen’s Taylor is an untameable, seemingly flawless hipster whose cry of “This is the best ever” will leave your skin crawling while you’re doubled over from moments of irony. They bounce off each other with well-timed ease, and we see their relationships, lifestyle and health quickly fall apart as the filters fade and the truth about their real identities come out.
Ingrid Goes West has the facade of being jovial and meaningless. But just like its subject matter, its dive into the murky depths of dishonesty means it is an unsettling yet evocative watch.
Directed by Matt Spicer, this has what it takes to be a timely and much-needed narrative—until its final scenes which untie any meaningful conclusion. Instead of being an invitation to reframe how a generation uses social media, it reinforces the meaningless and momentary ‘belonging’ that comes when we share extremes of our lives on the internet in the worst possible way.
Highlight: Offbeat humour and pop culture references
Red flags: Drug use, sex scene, violence, suicide, extreme language, mature themes