INGRID GOES WEST
Director: Matt Spicer
Screenwriters: David Branson Smith and Matt Spicer
O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Runtime: 98 mins.
Australian Release Date: 26 October 2017
Previewed at: Reel Room, Sydney, on 22 September 2017.
We live in a period where social media has emerged as the primary form of communication for many people but an unfortunate side effect has been the creation of a space in which a great number compete with each other and compare their lives; to be the first, the coolest or the hottest. Thus, regrettably, socials have become tools that encourage ‘group-think,’ locking out reality and allowing people to live in bubbles of their own making. The weirdest thing is that it’s been embraced without question and those who choose not to enter that realm are considered anti-social. OMG! Did I say that? Hang on a moment while I check my Facebook page to see if it got any ‘likes.’
Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith have created such a scenario in their highly original screenplay for Ingrid Goes West. We are introduced to Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), a young woman whose image of her self-worth comes from the number of 'likes' she racks up on social media, confusing them with significant, that is, ‘real’ relationships. Upon the death of her mother she becomes obsessed with finding her very own ‘bestie’ and ends up in a psych ward after attacking a bride in retaliation for not being invited to her wedding. The spooky fact is that she didn’t actually know the poor girl in ‘real’ life, only on social media. Upon her release, using funds inherited from her mum, Ingrid relocates to LA where she begins to stalk an Instagram ‘influencer,’ Taylor Sloane (Elisabeth Olsen), whose life is an open book to her many followers. Taylor lives in a world governed by what’s ‘trending’ and she’s fittingly partnered with Ezra (Wyatt Russell) who, of course, sports a man-bun and a beard. Ingrid rents an apartment nearby from Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), an obliging, Batman-obsessed landlord who gets caught up in her fantasy world and becomes her reluctant accomplice. As she travels down the rabbit-hole that is her imagined friendship with Taylor, Ingrid’s life once more begins to unravel.
In Ingrid Goes West Branson Smith and Spicer, who also directs, explore this brave new world with chilling accuracy and dead-pan humour, making a film that’s uncomfortable yet intriguing viewing, depending where you sit with regard to socials. The characters are all perfectly pitched and Aubrey Plaza particularly nails the nebulousness of Ingrid, who’s not sure who she is if she hasn’t got her phone in her hand. Although there are moments when you feel like giving her an almighty slap to bring her back to earth, there is a poignancy to this tale that manages to deliver not so much a message as a reality check. This warning about the down side of social media may well be ignored by the vast majority of the film’s audience but, in truth, it shouldn’t be. If, like Ingrid, you can’t see that she’s got a problem, put your phone down now!