Ingrid Goes West

Filed in Film by on August 10, 2017 0 Comments

Matt Spicer’s deliciously biting comedy, Ingrid Goes West, which opens in Canada on August 18, pokes gleeful fun at the Instagram generation fixated by the allure of social media. It’s set in Venice, California, a supposedly hip place, and revolves around an incredibly shallow, self-absorbed and unstable young woman who’s obsessed by hashtags, follows the latest fashions, confuses emojis with emotions, mistakes “likes” for genuine relationships and lives in a virtual world.

Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), the mercurial individual in question, is perpetually glued to her smartphone, which is like an appendage of her body. Without it, she would be probably at her wit’s end. This is a person who hardly reads and rarely reflects. Every fibre of her being is attuned to her Instagram account.

Aubrey Plaza plays an airhead addicted to Instagram

Spicer, who co-wrote the script with David Branson Smith, establishes the mood and tone of this sometimes uproarious film in the first few moments. Ingrid, having connected with a stranger through Instagram, shows up at her wedding uninvited. Naturally, she’s given a cold reception. Ingrid, beautifully played by Plaza, exacts vengeance, spraying the bride with mace and scratching the side of a car with her key.

An inheritance of $60,000 from her late mother brings Ingrid to California, the land of her dreams.  California, to her, is an amalgam of sunshine, palm trees and sandy beaches. The ideal destination to chill out.

In Venice, Ingrid rents an apartment from Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), a Batman aficionado who’s in the midst of writing a “spec” movie script. He and Ingrid establish a quasi-romantic bond replete with hazards and benefits.

Being obsessive, Ingrid focuses most of her attention on Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), an Instagram “influencer” she discovers in the pages of a glossy magazine. Taylor, perfectly portrayed by Olsen, is everything Ingrid aspires to be: cool, attractive, intelligent, charming and mellow. But how can she insinuate herself into Miss Wonderful’s life?

She stalks Taylor relentlessly, following her around town like a dogged detective. Failing to make an impression on Taylor, she devises a scheme to meet her in person. Having been allowed into Taylor’s home, Ingrid almost immediately violates her hospitality by taking photographs of the objects in her bathroom. Taylor and her husband, Ezra (Wyatt ┬áRussell), a talentless aspiring visual artist, have no idea as yet that she’s a serial liar.

Aubrey Plaza, right, and Elizabeth Olsen

In the meantime, Ingrid does whatever it takes to ingratiate herself into their lives. Money, of course, is no object in her quest to befriend Taylor and butter up Ezra. But as she delves deeper, she learns that Taylor also has a tenuous relationship with the truth.

Ingrid’s elaborate plan starts unravelling after she meets Nicky (Billy Magnussen), Taylor’s good-for-nothing brother, a drug addict and a blackmailer. Nicky, though, is no dummy. He can see through Ingrid and tries to take advantage of her. For Ingrid, it’s a situation that leads to disappointment, sorrow, isolation and, unexpectedly, redemption.

During its finest moments, Ingrid Goes West is a wickedly effective social satire that deflates pretentious behavior and spares no one in its range. The mordant screenplay sizzles with insights and sparkles with humor, and Spicer almost always has a firm grip on the material. The accomplished cast does not let him down.

This is a film that is going places. It’s so emblematic of our disruptive times.


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