Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Director: Matt Spicer
Running Time: 98 mins
Ingrid Goes West is an American film about a woman that obsessively follows Instagram stars who takes her stalking to a whole new level, by moving to California to live near and infiltrate the life of her latest craze.
This is a really clever and interesting film with a strongly modern mindset, bringing to light a contemporary story that not all that many people may know much about, yet bringing about a riveting portrayal. With a great screenplay that mixes dark, emotional drama with effective and appropriate humour throughout, furthered by a fantastic lead performance from Aubrey Plaza, Ingrid Goes West is an enthralling watch from beginning to end.
Let’s start off with the story, because that’s the thing that struck me most about this film. What’s most interesting is how it brings to light a story in an incredibly modern context, surrounding how people use social media and its potential relationship to various darker issues, offering a plot the likes of which you probably haven’t seen before, but is undoubtedly relevant and powerful enough to make a riveting watch throughout.
Now, I don’t know how widespread a problem social media users stalking their Instagram favourites is, however it’s clear that it’s something that’s come to light enough to make a very emotional and intimate piece such as this film. In that, Ingrid Goes West isn’t just about social media, but it’s a deeply emotional character study that uses the effects of social media to tell its story.
From start to finish, I was absolutely fascinated by this part of the film, and its strikingly modern mindset combined with an impressively emotional and dramatic story throughout meant I was enthralled from start to finish. What’s more, however, is that the film features a fantastic lead performance from Aubrey Plaza.
Having seen a few misfires in bigger, dumber Hollywood comedies, it’s great to see Plaza return to a slightly quirkier role with a little bit more meat and depth to it. As a result, she uses her talents to craft a riveting character in Ingrid, portraying her as a clearly unbalanced and deluded young woman, however is always charismatic and likable enough to reinforce the idea that her intentions are never malicious, but instead deeply misguided as a result of her own psychological issues.
So, as well as the deeply fascinating contemporary story, I was intrigued by the balance between the lead character’s internal mental struggles and a genuine, almost innocent desire to be as good as her favourite Instagram star, giving the film a whole extra layer of drama and conflict beyond its social commentary.
Of course, as impressive and riveting a drama as this is, Ingrid Goes West proves even more successful thanks to its use of humour throughout. It’s by no means an all-out comedy, and the drama is by far the most important and striking part of the film, but the way that the film employs very human comedy that feels totally genuine in a real-world context further grounds it in reality.
So, rather than being either a simple, slapstick comedy, or a serious downer of a drama, Ingrid Goes West strikes a fantastic balance between the two, and in the process making for a fantastically convincing, and as a result even more riveting watch, furthered by a great screenplay and an excellent lead performance, which is why I’m giving it an 8.0 overall.