Winner of Best First Feature at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, Ingrid Goes West was a film I really wanted to see last year. But, as is always the case with independent films, it wasn’t on at any of my local cinemas. Almost a year later, I finally managed to catch Matt Spicer’s directorial debut. I was very, very impressed.
The film is a really clever attack on the negative effects social media can have on people.
Following the story of unhinged social media stalker Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), we see her become obbsessed with Instagram star Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) and subsequently move to LA to befriend her. The films cleverly tackles the dangers social media can have on people’s mental health. A simple like or a comment could be misinterpreted as something much more by certain people. Ingrid is a mentally unstable stalker, a role that Aubrey Plaza is perfect for. She completely sells every single emotion Ingrid goes through, and manages to make a character who in real life would be a nightmare, totally relatable. Your sympathies even lie solely with her, despite the fact you know you’d react the same way others do towards her. It’s a superb character study, and you’re left helpless watching her social media addiction makes her mental health worse. It’s Aubrey Plaza’s best performance to date and shows off she can handle much more serious and well written roles.
Aubrey Plaza…manages to make a character who in real life would be a nightmare, totally relatable.
Elizabeth Olsen also gives one of her best performances and is the yang to Ingrid’s ying. On the face of it, her life is perfect and thanks to social media, she can live it the way she wants and this makes her very protective of what she posts online. Every picture must be perfect and every event she attends must give her the most exposure. She’s also someone a lot of people will see themselves in and relate too. But what Ingrid Goes West makes clever use of, is subverting what you’re expecting. Sloane is the victim of a crazed stalker, yet you never sympathise with her. We see how social media addiction also give others a false sense of security and the ability to hide from their own insecurities. Everyone has their own problems and their lives are totally different to the one they put online for the world to see. Taylor’s boyfriend Ezra (Wyatt Russell) and brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) also each hide their problems not only from each other, but from themselves.
Everyone has their own problems and their lives are totally different to the one they put online for the world to see.
The film is a really clever attack on the negative effects social media can have on people. Ingrid’s actions are wildly irresponsible and downright crazy at times, but you always believe she feels what she’s doing is the right course of action. It doesn’t make a mockery of Ingrid and instead follows her on a dark spiral of events which slowly unravel her stability and continue to shock the audience. To say more about what happens as Ingrid Goes West progresses would be a disservice to what the film melds into. There’s no huge, mind blowing third act twists, but it does manage to dance around certain expectations that are seemingly set up in an emotional and genuinely heartfelt way. It also boasts a host of career best performances from the cast as well as a very strong debut by scriptwriters Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith (who worked on this year’s Adrift). If you haven’t seen this yet, you should put it quite high up on your ever expanding list of films to see.