BFI London Film Festival: Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid Goes West
Ingrid Goes West
Directed by Matt Spicer
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell and Billy Magnussen
Screening at LFF October 7th, 8th, 14th, 2017

by Joanna Orland

Simple, smart and funny, this dark and scathing satire on Generation Instagram is remarkably on the nose. Single White Female for the social media age, Ingrid Goes West delves a bit deeper, examining not only how we use our phones as escapism, but also how the new technology-led hipster zeitgeist is destroying our souls. The film also shallowly touches upon why we might want to live in such an escapist world, but really it’s more of a commentary on our current vacuous society.

In the opening montage, the film premise is expertly divulged as we learn of Ingrid’s obsession with Instragam, and how she becomes obsessive to the point of stalker with those that she follows. After a brief stint in a mental institution, Ingrid regains possession of her phone, only to resume her old ways as a social media junkie. Taylor Sloane is the focus of Ingrid’s current attention; Taylor is a social media influencer who portrays a painfully picture perfect life on Instagram. Ingrid is seriously lacking in judgement and moves to LA to live the life that Taylor emits online. Dyeing her hair blonde, eating at the same restaurants, Ingrid is mimicking everything she sees Taylor post – even when it’s not what her true self wants; for example, after eating a vile avocado something or other at Taylor’s favourite restaurant, Ingrid is seen gorging on fries, much more to her liking.

Living this model lifestyle isn’t enough as Ingrid longs to befriend Taylor, concocting a sociopathic scheme to do so. Lo and behold it works, and the film plays out exactly as you’d expect it to – hitting all of the right beats and plot points. There is something satisfying in the film’s predictability, but also in the unique tone it sets throughout. Sardonic but charming, the film is full of social commentary as well as hilarity. Aubrey Plaza is typically brilliant, but this is without a doubt her best cinematic role to date. She is not only a wonderful comic actress, but she can play many different shades of this character with a natural ease.

The rest of the cast is nicely padded out, each character serving a distinct purpose to fuel the social commentary or Ingrid’s story. O’Shea Jackson Jr. is particularly funny as Dan Pinto, Ingrid’s Batman-obsessed love interest. Smiling his way through the film while laying down Batman joke after Batman joke. Ingrid Goes West could rival Lego Batman for the amount of content which pokes fun at the Caped Crusader.

Elizabeth Olsen is perfect as Taylor, the fact that she’s an Olsen sister, albeit not a twin, is enough cred to believe in her social media prowess. But she excels in her own right as an actress, personifying the online Taylor persona, while subtly hinting to the true character underneath the social mask.

As charming as it is funny and mocking, Ingrid Goes West is a breath of fresh air. It’s the millennial stalker film of all millennial stalker films; a spot-on satire of social media and the generation that seemingly thrives on it.



 

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