Ingrid Goes West

by Toby Woollaston

ingridIt’s always a sobering experience when a film knowingly holds a mirror to modern society.  Director, Matt Spicer, has done just that with his first feature film, crafting a modern tale that is astute, cynical, and very self-aware—a cinematic selfie of our social media woes, so to speak.

Ingrid Goes West jumps boldly out of the starting gate with an opening montage of self-indulgent Instagramming, hash-tagging, duck-face selfies, foodie pics, emojis, the kind of stuff we all roll our eyes at despite ringing true for many of us. It then paints the titular Ingrid as an emotionally frail slave to the intoxicating lure of this social media landscape. It is a post-satire comedy where its characters’ outlandish behaviour is both abhorrent and yet completely believable.

Ingrid, played by Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed), is always on the outer and desperately craves the attention of those who are popular on social media. Unfortunately, her sociopathic tendencies hamper her ability to gauge social norms and it’s not long before she finds herself in trouble. After burning her bridges with her old friends she develops an unhealthy social media crush on Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Taylor, a socialite with many Instagram followers, is popular and everything Ingrid wants to be, but Ingrid finds it increasingly difficult to maintain her “perfect” life which is perpetuated by her appetite for social media.

Ingrid Goes West is nothing short of a damning comment on the ills of pretending to be someone you’re not and presents a world where perceived popularity is measured by your number of followers. As Taylor’s husband says, “it’s exhausting”.

The film descends into some fairly dark places but its exploration into the murkier waters of social media and mental illness is unfortunately met with a noncommittal ending that doesn’t do either topic justice.  Nonetheless, Ingrid Goes West confidently struts a fine line between twee and brooding and still manages to expose the dark underbelly of social media with a few chuckles along the way. #stillworthseeing.

You can see my published reviews here.