Released August 11
Ingrid Goes West could well be called “Ingrid Goes South.” “Ingrid” is a colossal mess and this film is the story of that mess. This is not an artistically top of the line movie. However it is a relevant statement and exploration of the communications backbone of people whose self-confidence is built and defined by the posts on their Instagram and Twitter. The narrative meanders through twists and turns and at times it loses its thrust, but you will get the message.
Director Matt Spicer wrote the screenplay with friend David Branson Smith. He reported in an interview that one day at lunch they were discussing their feelings about Instagram. “We both love it,” he said, “but it had us feeling sh*t about ourselves sometimes. Feeling like we’re not cool enough, not going on enough vacations. It can bring out the dark side of you.” Thus was born the film Ingrid Goes West. The story explores the idea that seems to be prevalent among avid social media users that one does not exist but on Instagram or Twitter.
There are some excellent performances by the cast. The style is consistent, almost documentary in style, as many people’s lives seem to be now as they record all their daily thoughts and activities on social media. The music by Nick Thorburn and Jonathan Sadoff is a perfect undercurrent for the bizarre and sometimes irrational antics of our anti-heroine.
Ingrid is expertly rendered by Aubrey Plaza. She conveys a befuddled lack of awareness as to just how confused she is psychologically and socially. Plaza beautifully reflects Ingrid’s real emotions with great subtlety – emotions which are so deeply embedded under layers of pain that by the time they emerge from her they seem flat and lifeless, almost imperceptible. Note that Plaza is also a producer of this film.
Other outstanding performances are O’Shea Jackson Jr. as “Dan Pinto” – never over the top, a genuine character with a Batman obsession, not perfect, yet likeable and well aware of his flaws. Billy Magnussen is spot-on as the coke-fueled “Nicky Sloane.” Elizabeth Olsen almost seems to float in the background, and this is a well-matched choice for her role of Influencer “Taylor Sloane.” The real Taylor disappears behind her social media facade. Pom Klementieff is fascinating even in her relatively small role as “Harley Chung.” I predict that Pom is on the brink of greater things in her career.
Leaving this movie, you may feel vaguely uncomfortable rather than inspired. This discomfort, however, may actually move you in a positive direction – so in the end it is indeed an inspiration.