We live in an age of social media, where people share so many details about their lives, but how much of it is real? It is also an age where we can communicate with anyone at any time, regardless whether they are a friend or complete stranger. Not only can we communicate but we can share so much information it is not hard to locate someone at any given moment. To top it off, the age of social media has led to the rise of people who are ‘insta-famous’; average people who have achieved celebrity status based on the number of followers they have and the content they post. For all of the benefits surrounding social media, there is a dark underbelly that director Matt Splicer explores in Ingrid Goes West. The movie sees Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid as she falls into an obsession-based relationship with Instagram celebrity, Taylor Sloane, played by Elizabeth Olsen.
If you watch the trailer for this movie, do not be fooled, this is not a straight-up comedy. The trailer felt like a feature film of Aubrey Plaza’s performance in the episode of Parks and Recreation ‘Doppelgangers’, and whilst Ingrid Goes West has some comedic moments, it delves deeper. This is a dark reflection on the issues surrounding social media and mental health in young people, shown through a rose coloured filter that makes the world seem brighter than it actually is. If you are prepared for what you are about to see you will take so much from Ingrid Goes West, but if you are expecting a quirky Aubrey Plaza performance you will be in for a disappointment. The film has some very funny moments, but for the most part it is an uncomfortable look at life online through the eyes of Ingrid.
The reason for the success of this film is the performance from all involved. Aubrey Plaza is fantastic in the lead role as Ingrid, the mentally unstable woman obsessed with her social media. Plaza manages to keep this character grounded in a way that offers an insight into how sad and empty Ingrid’s life really is. It would have been easy for her to appeal for cheap laughs but that would also cheapen the message of the movie. If she gives an over the top performance then the movie loses its credibility. Like Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen is able to create a realistic character in Taylor, the ‘Lifestyle Guru’. She could have gone too over the top in her performance, creating a caricature of an ‘Insta-Celebrity’ but instead, she creates an emotionally layered performance that allows the audience to buy into the movie. The ensemble cast members compliment the movie fantastically, with Billy Magnussen as Taylor’s obnoxious brother Nick, and Wyatt Russell as Taylor’s artistic husband. Rounding out the cast is an unexpected performance from O’Shea Jackson Jr, who steals many of his scenes as Ingrid’s Batman obsessed landlord, Dan.
Too be perfectly honest I don’t know how I feel about the conclusion of the film and the message it is trying to tell. On one hand, Spicer pulls no punches in an exceptionally awkward confrontation scene, delving down into the depths of Ingrid’s obsession with Taylor, the fake nature of Taylor’s life and how people can be whomever they want online. The film then goes even darker into Ingrid’s mental health, but ultimately pulls back from a lesson learnt conclusion, potentially in an effort to show just how superficial the world can be. The ending isn’t terrible, and I can appreciate the imagery that Spicer is going for, it just doesn’t sit right with me.
Ingrid Goes West is the kind of movie that will make you question everything you put on social media, since we share so much of our lives with strangers that sometimes we often forget the risks associated with it. It will also allow you to question the superficial nature of some of the online personalities that you might engage with, are they really happy or just appear to be? I don’t feel a need to rush out and see the film again but I do acknowledge just how well made, well-acted and socially relevant Ingrid Goes West is.
If you are someone with a big social media presence you will definitely want to check out Ingrid Goes West. If you are someone who spends a large amount of time online it is worth a viewing.
Ingrid Goes West scores a 7.5 /10
Thank you for reading my review of Ingrid Goes West. Have you seen the movie? Do you think you want to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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