Ingrid Goes West (2017) Review

Ingrid goes West


This is the story of Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), a young woman who frequently loses herself in the make-believe world of Instagram. She’s a very lonely woman who puts all of her self-worth in the hands of likes, emojis and hashtags of social media, and she ends up in a mental institution after an acquaintance didn’t invite her to a wedding. The mental care didn’t help a damn bit, because upon Ingrid’s return, she attaches herself to another Instagram girl, Taylor (Elisabeth Olsen), who seems to live another perfect life.

Time to get out of town and leave behind all the people who hate her. Ingrid develops an obsession with Taylor’s highlight reel. She travels west to California and starts mirroring Taylor’s life, visiting the same restaurants and hair dressers, desperate to be liked by her, or to be her, or to be liked as she is liked. One of these things, or all of them.

It’s actually a very depressing tale and I think that everyone in this generation felt shades of that obsession with social media and its insidious influences on insecurities (but not on the level that Ingrid feels it). But Aubrey Plaza makes it a dark comedy, so that at least we can laugh at ourselves for being ridiculous. Plaza has a knack for both looking like a crazy stalker and at the same time work that awkward comedy.

Ingrid goes West2

What she is doing is wrong, but she’s mostly hurting herself in the long run. Most scenes just make you go: oh no, don’t do that. Someone please drag her away and help her. So, she creates opportunities to meet the woman she’s obsessing over, but the friendship that comes from it isn’t real. The whole story is about a fake connection that may look real, but is constructed. Friendships appear as real and lives appear as great and perfect, but reality is often different. The film is like Instagram dragged from the screen and recreated in the real world.

And Taylor, the happy perfect woman, isn’t as perfect a friend as Ingrid hoped she would be. Taylor too lives in a world full of vapid enthusiasm, shallow gestures and appearances. Ingrid, being the dysfunctional person she is, of course flips out again. There are little moments of humanity now and then when people feel sad about all the fakeness around them. The only real connection Ingrid has is with Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), but Ingrid doesn’t know how to handle that. She only understands or cares about appearance.

For most of this movie, I felt incredibly uncomfortable, and at other times just sad. There is comedy but the film isn’t funny enough to actually be a comedy. Aubrey Plaza fills in her role perfectly, as she radiates that nervous energy. I can’t really make up my mind about this film. It’s a pretty interesting film with good acting, but I wouldn’t watch it again. Its ending has a weird form of irony and nobody in this film seems to have learned anything. Recommended if you worry about the effects of social media, I suppose, and if you are in for a sad stalker film.

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2 Responses to Ingrid Goes West (2017) Review

  1. Bookstooge says:

    Ugh. I see this enough in the kids around me, so watching it for “fun” definitely is at the bottom of my list.
    Glad you weren’t totally depressed by the end of the movie…


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