In our increasingly connected world, it’s ironically easier than ever to feel disconnected. How you deal with that disconnection is the subject of the disturbing comedy-drama, Ingrid Goes West.
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is an unhinged social media stalker. She has a history of confusing “likes” for meaningful relationships. Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) is an Insta-famous “influencer”, whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s latest obsession. Taylor’s boyfriend Ezra (Wyatt Russell) is a curmudgeon who thinks technology is bad. While in Taylor’s brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) there is more than meets the eye. 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.
Plaza’s brilliantly disarming performance provides the centrepiece for the film.
Ingrid Goes West won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival. All the characters represent different sides of ourselves. Ingrid represents the needy side, the desire to constantly fit in; maybe even to become someone else. Taylor is the flip-side of that coin, the one who has everything together and seemingly lives the perfect life. What we all have in common is dealing with insecurity.
Beneath its light touch, Ingrid Goes West has a decidedly dark underbelly. In a sign of our times, it delivers a pointed message about vacuousness; about a lack of real connection. There’s also an element of mental illness. Given its subject matter, it’s a movie that should come with a warning.
Of greatest concern to me is that it can be seen to be glorifying attempted suicide. It seems to suggest that call for help that may, indeed, go unanswered. But it might result in adulation.
The script works by pushing the boundaries around a self-centred loner in a self-centred world. The ending, although plausible, is gravely worrying. What sort of message does this send to young people?
Even though it’s painted as fun, I was left alarmed by what was dished up in the name of entertainment.
Director: Matt Spicer
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen
Release Date: 26 October 2017 (limited)
Rated: MA 15+
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television