Instagram fame is fleeting, sure, but even while it is red hot it still has to be considered vapid. That has never been so accurately portrayed on the silver screen as it is in the new Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen film, Ingrid Goes West.
Matt Spicer’s biting tale is equally alarming as it is entertaining. It’s not a preachy commentary on social media, circa 2017. But it does show an underbelly to the interconnectivity superhighway that is out there in the world today. The stalkers who permeate headlines for following A-list celebrities are merely the tip of the iceberg of their ilk.
Ingrid Goes West shows what could happen in today’s landscape of everyone sharing meals, moments, pets and parties with the planet. Someone may misconstrue that connection for more than the surface it inhabits. That person could move across the country and infiltrate your life and pull wool over your eyes until you’re blind from the adoration dangerously emanating from across from you.
That’s exactly what happens in Ingrid Goes West. Plaza is Ingrid. She’s a lonely soul who we learn has fabricated friendships in the past, and is clearly searching for something real in a sea of Facebook friends. She stumbles upon Taylor on Instagram and it’s friendship at first sight. What’s a girl to do? Move to Los Angeles and try to become flesh and blood friends. That is when things get real. Taylor adores Ingrid instantly (or at who she is pretending to be) and a real bond starts to solidify — as much as one can in a Los Angeles that circles the drain of fame.
Olsen has a blast inhabiting Taylor. We’ve never seen her quite this empty and reveling in it. Usually, her characters are known to have great depth and Taylor is the opposite of that. She’s married to her sweetheart Ezra (Wyatt Russell) and they’re living a slightly-beyond-their-means life in Venice, all paid for by her celebrity. Ingrid starts to achieve that type of influence, or so thinks, as Taylor’s followers latch on to her. After all, they’re becoming #BFF!
When the third act starts swinging, the teeth of Ingrid Goes West are at its sharpest. The reality of what is going on starts to permeate and our foundation of friendship appears to be becoming a house of cards. That is when both Olsen and Plaza dig in. The actresses collectively unleash performances that have been fermenting for two acts. Both of their talents have been on display for years, but there is something about what each brings to their roles in Spicer’s sizzling satire that is fresh and fierce.
Of course, it all begins with the script by David Branson Smith and Spicer. One does not get this much of an intelligent and insightful film without the words leaping off the page. It gives those performers delivering the story to the audience ammunition to knock their socks off. They do just that. Also solid is Russell (again with this kid!) and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. The latter is choosing brilliantly for his post Straight Outta Compton career and illustrates that with his commanding turn as Ingrid’s landlord.
Ingrid Goes West is not an indictment on the rapid elevation of social media in our lives. It is a comedy that smartly sears the scope of what it has done to us and serves as a reminder of what’s real and what could be gone in an Insta.