INGRID GOES WEST
Review by: Christopher Haskell
January 14, 2018
“You are by far the coolest, the most interesting person I’ve ever met.”— Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza)
Our culture has changed, and many of those changes are disheartening. This past holiday season, my family and I stumbled upon an event at the Los Angeles Zoo aptly named the L.A. Zoo Lights, where the entire zoo is decked out with lights of all different assortments. As we attempted to admire what was right in front us, we realized that everyone around us was busy trying to get the perfect selfie, wholly absorbed in their phones. A young boy who did not want to take a picture along a light wall was coerced by his parents to pose for the photo. After the photo, they just walked away with their faces buried in their phones, leaving the little boy behind. We spent the night dodging people that were not paying attention to their surroundings and eventually departed with a little less faith in humanity. “Ingrid Goes West” integrally touches upon this.
There’s no denying our culture is screen-obsessed. It worries me on a daily basis because my four-year-old is continuously asking for a phone, or a tablet or the television to be turned on. We try to implement a screen-time limit, but in this electronic obsessed age, it’s difficult. I, myself, am typing this review on a laptop, which I use at work. I post pictures of my girls, mostly so my family, who lives all around the U.S., can see them without me having to send the images individually to everyone. But I still always wonder how much is too much? Director Matt Spicer takes a look at this social commentary in a dark comedic way. Aubrey Plaza, who is also a producer on the film, plays Ingrid Thorburn, a young woman who is most definitely screen-obsessed, liking pictures on Instagram without actually even absorbing what is in the image. The first time we meet Ingrid, she is scrolling through her “friend” Charlotte’s Instagram account, who just got married that day and did not invite her, to which she responds by crashing the party and spraying mace into her eyes.
After Ingrid has a stint in a psych ward, we come to find out that Ingrid was not friends with Charlotte and their only connection was that Ingrid followed her on Instagram and Charlotte replied to a post of hers once. We find this out from a catty looking woman not trying to hide the fact that she’s eyeballing Ingrid and having a conversation about her that she can hear while standing in line at a grocery store. Some of the worst people fill this film.
We see Ingrid’s obsessive nature begin to play out again, as she forms an obsession with Instagram star Taylor Sloane, played by the lovely Elizabeth Olsen. Ingrid uses her inheritance from her recently deceased mother to move out to Los Angeles and uses Taylor’s step-by-step Instagram posts across town to follow her. Moving into Taylor’s neighborhood, Ingrid ends up renting a guest house from a Batman obsessed screenwriter, Dan Pinto, played by the scene stealer of the film, O’Shea Jackson Jr, who recently portrayed his father Ice Cube in “Straight Outta Compton.” With the characters of Ingrid and Taylor bordering on almost caricature-like personalities, Dan is a breath of fresh air in being so down-to-earth and relatable, not to mention likable, that he ends up stealing all his scenes. His reactions and retorts to Ingrid are so believable and authentic, he feels like the rope, bringing this film back down to Earth.
From there, Ingrid bides her time in trying to wedge herself into Taylor’s life, eventually finding out where she lives and stealing her dog so that she can return her in person. Refusing to take the reward money, she accepts an offer from Taylor’s husband, Ezra, played by Wyatt Russell (man-bun included) to join them for dinner. Taylor latches on to Ingrid’s admiration for her immediately, and when Ingrid is there to offer her help whenever she needs it, Taylor takes advantage.
There’s a particular scene where Taylor’s entitlement honestly strikes me, as she forces a kind mechanic to lay down in the dirt, after just fixing their truck, to get the optimal photo of she and Ingrid standing in front of a sign. Her complete disregard for this person is something I witness daily in Los Angeles, and it’s sad.
When Taylor’s brother, Nicky, (Billy Magnussen) a recovering drug addict, deliberately steps in between Ingrid (whom he calls Olga to mess with her) and his sister Taylor, the film delves into some “Single White Female” territory, involving blackmail and kidnapping. But the movie always steers the side of comedy, never genuinely going dark.
“Ingrid Goes West” is essentially a horror film, depicting the horrible state to which our society and the new generations have devolved. You cringe at all the mistakes that Ingrid makes in her attempts to be apart of the “cool” crowd just as you cringe at the self-indulgent nature of Taylor and her brother, who feel like their stories and their lives are scripture.
I feel stuck in a state of being an outsider. Now I’m left to wonder why people make the choices that they make. Why does it seem like all the wrong people are famous for all the wrong reasons? Should we give a crap what a reality star’s family is doing daily? Should our President be allowed to tweet the garbage that he posts on Twitter?
Ingrid self-admittedly never got the help she needed after her mother died, so she latches on to social media in such an unhealthy way, and no one is there to guide her in the right direction. The same could probably be said for Taylor as well, who is described by Ezra as having been a boring nobody when she first moved there. Taylor, just like Ingrid, is lying about who she is, and is hiding behind some emotional wall, telling people that her favorite books are books she’s never even read. By now, everyone has to realize that what is on Instagram is only part of a person’s life. Usually the good bits. “Ingrid Goes West” shines a light on that idea in a very poignant and comedic way, genuinely being a pivotal film in the current age that we live in, to the point where we’ll look back at this film as a marker for representing an entire generation that we lived through. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to put down this screen and enjoy an electronic free evening walk with my family.
August 11, 2017
David Branson Smith
(for language throughout, drug use, some sexual content and disturbing behavior)