Ingrid Goes West (2017)

A cautionary tale about the dangers of social media, Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West is sharp, funny and very, very timely.

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by Alexa Dalby

Ingrid Goes West

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Aubrey Plaza is perfect as Ingrid, an obsessive, yet vulnerable, Instagram follower – we first see her gatecrashing and disrupting the wedding of a woman whose life she has been following. After a spell in an institution, she uses her inheritance from her mother to move west to California, where her next stalkee lives. Taylor Sloane (played to perfection by Elizabeth Olsen) is an ‘influencer’. Calling herself a photographer, she’s paid to post product-placement pictures to promote brands. She Instagrams her avocado on toast to promote the cafe – “How may I nourish you today>” – where she has breakfast, her designer handbag and basically everything in her blonde, sun-kissed, superficial lifestyle in Venice Beach.

Ingrid deviously inveigles her way into Taylor’s life and lifestyle until she becomes her new best friend. She’s invited to weekends in Joshua Tree, poolside parties and gets to know her pretentious, dominated artist husband (Wyatt Russell), her obnoxious, blackmailing alcoholic brother (Billy Magnussen). Her only link with recognisable real life is her sympathetic, Batman-obsessed would-be screenwriter landlord who lives next door (O’Shea Jackson Jr), whose kindness she doesn’t appreciate and exploits ruthlessly. But despite Ingrid’s scheming, in the new persona she’s reinvented for herself she’s hopelessly out of her depth, running out of money and you know it’s only a matter of time before her lies begin to unravel.

Ingrid Goes West is a wickedly hilarious satire about a vacuous stratum of society. It reveals that everyone is basically living in, at best, a dream world or, at worst, a lie – and mostly lacking in self-awareness. The film is good on Instagram’s (or all social media’s) addictive qualities, its promotion of the importance of material possessions and its illusion of friendship and connectivity with which real life will eventually collide like a car crash. Sharp and funny throughout, sadly the ending wimps out, but up to that point it skewers its targets one by one with forensically malicious relish. #Perfect

Ingrid Goes West is released on 17 November 2017 in the UK.

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