That latest Instagram picture you posted of your avocado-enriched soy toast latte might have been a pretty great idea on Sunday funday during brunch hours, but what if it turns out one of your Instagram followers is Ingrid. Or at the very least, Ingrid-esque. In director, Matt Spicer’s latest Ingrid Goes West, we get an all too familiar look at an obsessive behavior that has become an accepted and popular way of getting away with being stalker-lite.
In the beautifully lit and directed, Ingrid Goes West, Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) moves out to California after receiving her recently deceased mother’s inheritance. Ingrid isn’t interested with any sunshine or beaches though, she is moving specifically due to her obsession with social network influencer, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). When she arrives, she finds a way to find a way to burrow her way into Sloane’s social circles using her knowledge of Sloane’s Instagram hangouts, but her obsessive nature quickly takes her from friendly to frightening.
Plaza does some amazing work here. Since playing her engimatic character Lenny Busker in FX’s Legion, she has shown that she is capable of doing severely creepy and threatening surprisingly well. In Ingrid Goes West, she uses that dark side to create a very ominous character, but stays likeable enough to give the character merit in her actions. We are never not on her side, even at the most cringe-worthy moments. Plaza dispalys a nervous volatility that will put you at unease. Doesn’t change the fact that you still want to see her succeed despite knowing her stalker intent. Plaza is ultimately scary good.
The film is told through a no filter, concentrate examination of millennials, and the view a lot of that generation has of and on the world. The films dialogue is spoken through superlative millennial speak that becomes just as much a character as Ingrid. A lot of the central characters are totally unlikeable people, due to their narcissistic routines. Rather it’s Sloane’s delusions of grandeur, her brother Nicky’s trust fund baby issues or her boyfriend Ezra’s dismal hipster art, each brings enough unlike ability to assist in making Ingrid’s stalking nature a high point of character. Arguably, the most likeable character in the film has to be Ingrid’s landlord/boyfriend, Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson). Jackson brings on buckets of charm and like ability to his Batman obsessed, drug dealer with a heart of gold. His character is also the most do good of the bunch and ultimately (despite being a drug dealer) is purely good and genuinely cares about people. Warning, Jackson has a got a smile that has the power to make ya melt. After his breakout in Straight Out Of Compton followed by this, I’m hoping to see this dude in a lot more stuff soon.
There is a playful, satirical tone throughout that paves the way with funny and lite intent, only to lead you down a darker path in its final act once the rot sets in. It’s no spoiler to say that this film comes with a sort of pessimistic catharsis for both character and a generation.
Spicer creates a film that is self-aware of its own nature. Its frames are perfectly lit to match the best of your Instagram pictures. It’s an interesting take on stalker culture. The scariest part of which, is society basically mimicking Ingrid’s behavior in more concentrated instances, and how it has become an accepted social more. Next time you or I am obsessively hitting that refresh button on our favorite social media app, just know in a way you and I are all Ingrid… or at the very least have an Ingrid waiting for us to leave so they can kidnap our dog.