Social media was supposed to make us more connected, to give the voiceless a platform. That was all a lie. Social media was designed to benefit the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram company who make money selling all of our data. Cinema has quickly incorporated social media into its portrayal of modern day stories, so it’s about time a comedy directly skewered it. Ingrid Goes West is that comedy.
Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is institutionalized for attacking someone she only new on social media, and barely knew at that. When she gets out, she finds a new obsession. Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) is an Instagram celebrity in California, so Ingrid moves to L.A. to be with her.
This is sort of a like a comedic version of those ‘90s thrillers where someone is too good to be true and it’s because they’re playing your perfect friend to get close to you. Only this is from the stalker’s perspective. Yes, it’s played for laughs but it really goes there with the dark extremes Ingrid goes to to endear herself to Taylor.
Ingrid Goes West also skewers the loud, shrill hipster culture I hate. A hipster restaurant bears an overly emotional Quote of the Day, and a supermodel opening is all empty noise. It shows how transparently fickle millennials can be, but Ingrid is there under false pretenses anyway so she’s hardly sympathetic. Even I relate to competing for attention from Taylor’s loud, obnoxious brother (Billy Magnussen). You’d wonder how someone you care about could be swayed by such peacocking, but in this case you have to remember Ingrid doesn’t actually know her at all.
Plaza nails the maniacal obsession of Ingrid but the breakout star of the movie is O’Shea Jackson Jr. Ice Cube’s son plays Ingrid’s landlord, Dan Pinto, who becomes her leading man. He’s a Batman obsessed screenwriter and he is charismatically funny. He should be Cube’s costar in a new Friday sequel.
The film portrays social media culture observantly too, focusing on Instagram. It captures narcissists desperate for validation without filling the screen with graphics like some movies did in the early days of portraying social media.
Ingrid Goes West is the comedy social media has wrought and deserves to be put in its place. It’s dark enough that it needed to be made outside the studio system, but hopefully distributors will see its immensely relatable potential.