Ingrid Goes West: Darkly Humorous Comedy of New Social Media

Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Fest, Ingrid Goes West was one of the highlights at this year’s edition, largely due to the sharp performance of Aubrey Plaza in quite a difficult role.

Plaza plays the titular role, Ingrid Thorburn, a social media stalker, spends too much time on the Internet, even is she cannot really differentiate the “likes” from the meaningful relationships.

She is at once a product–and a victim–of the new life styles that youngsters adopt in the wake of new technologies and media.

Enters Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), an Instagram-famous “influencer” whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s obsession.

When Ingrid moves to L.A. and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star’s life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF.

Built around a disarming, dominant performance from Plaza, Ingrid Goes West  is a savagely hilarious dark comedy that satirizes the modern world of social media and proves that being #perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Matt Spicer, who co-penned the script with David Branson Smith, acquits himself more honorably as a writer than director.

While the initial concept is intriguing and the subject always timely, the execution leaves much to be desired.

After the first reel or so, in which most of the film’s good ideas are exposed (if not really or deeply explored), it becomes clear that the darkly humorous comedy still relies on stereotypes–instead of challenging and contesting them–especially concerning L.A. and Angelinos.

Moreover, debutant director Spicer struggles with establishing the right tone for a picture, which is by turn funny and biting as well as upsetting and disturbing; the movie is at its weakest when it tries to delve into the genre of psychological thriller.

In moments the film is bold–it is non-rated due to some explicit language, graphic depiction of drug use, some sexual content and other disturbing behavior.

Likely to travel the festival road, due to the lack of many worthy indies this year, Ingrid Goes West will be released theatrically by Neon on August 11, as counter-programming to summer’s mainstream entertainment.

Running time: 97

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