BFI London Film Festival Reviews

Ingrid Goes West – Review

With the rise of technology,  there always comes inevitable detractors. Many people who believe that we’ve all become zombies, attached to our screens and our social media lives. There is some truth to it: As much as the internet connects us to anyone overseas, opens us up to worlds of knowledge, and allows us a secret respite from the real world – it has a large and encroaching darkness. As we all buy into these online personas and fantastical lives, we’re addicted to bettering ourselves in self-indulgent ways or the comfort of slinging insults at whomever displeases us.

There are plenty of films out there, like sci-fi dystopias, that deal with the that  impact of social media and technology have had on our culture. Black Mirror, Friend Request, and more have all tried to slice our society down  by attacking this “addiction.” But none seem so hilariously cutting as Ingrid Goes West.

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Starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, the movie by Matt Spicer revolves around the titular character who is a mentally unstable woman. After deluding herself into thinking that she is friends with a woman online, resulting in the latter being maced at her wedding, Ingrid is sectioned and subsequently released to start over. Lured to California with the money inherited from her mother’s death, Ingrid soon becomes obsessed with social media business woman Taylor and wastes no time in infiltrating her life, becoming obsessed. How long can she keep up the lie before disintegrating mentally?

Spicer’s witty and intellectual script is not merely an indictment on social media but, instead, puts the onus on the user and our lack of education for social media use. Using this black comedy vehicle, Spicer aims for similar veins of obsession but different in their usage. For Taylor, her addiction is to outsource fame and adoration. While inherently a victim in the film, Taylor is also a keen Instagram user, cracking over aspects of her life for cool photos and corporate sponsorship. Ingrid is more dangerous, consumed with a wanton desperation to be in Taylor’s lives. As the film progresses, it gets darker in these elements and when Ingrid’s plan begins to fracture, the atmosphere switches into a darker and more perverse manner whilst still keeping the off-beat comedy.

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The titular role has to be written for Aubrey Plaza because she is the only one who can encapsulate Ingrid with a compelling nature morphed by her mental illness. Only Plaza can switch through dozens of emotions in seconds and portray every single element in a quiet insanity. With a dry tone, Plaza pushes Ingrid to her limits and it is wonderfully executed. Opposite her is Elizabeth Olsen as Taylor. This character is interesting because she is an airhead masquerading as someone spiritually enlightened; a typical LA socialite. Underneath that is someone equally as lost as Ingrid, using those around her to elevate her status into someone of importance. Together, they have brilliant chemistry that pushes Spicer’s script forward.  In support is the excellent O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ingrid’s Batman obsessed landlord Dan .

Ingrid Goes West‘s finale is bleak; an undercurrent message of how we put status and fictional relationships ahead of our mental illness and life. It is assuredly going to stop to make you think…and even put that Instagram down. For at least, like, an hour.


Ingrid Goes West is out in cinemas Friday! 

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