At the start of the satirical film, “Ingrid Goes West,” Ingrid Thorburn, a lonely and mentally unbalanced person, portrayed by Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), has just crashed a wedding. She is not at the reception to partake of the festivities, but instead to cause a scene, and cause a scene she does. Ingrid, believing that she has been neglected by her friend (Meredith Hagner), by not being invited to the wedding, sprays a can of pepper spray at the bride’s face. Ingrid’s actions, land her for a short time, in a psychiatric ward. If using the pepper spray weren’t bad enough, the viewer learns that Ingrid didn’t even have a valid grievance for not being invited to the wedding, in the first place. As it turns out, Ingrid was a follower of the bride’s Instagram account, and the two women had never interacted in person, but in Ingrid’s mind, she felt they had a deep personal connection, thanks to social media.
When Ingrid is released from the hospital, she begins to revert to her old behavior. While skimming through the pages of a magazine, she learns of an ‘Instagram lifestyle guru’ by the name of Taylor Sloane; she is played by BAFTA nominee Elizabeth Olsen (Captain America: Civil War). Taylor’s Instagram is full of positivity, and it is seemingly just what Ingrid needs to reignite her spark in life, especially since the recent death of her mother. The catalyst which sets the next part of the movie into motion is Taylor replying back to a comment left by Ingrid on her Instagram. Ingrid uses the inheritance money she receives from her mother’s passing to move to California, where Taylor lives. She is determined to track Taylor down, and become friend’s with her new obsession.
When Ingrid arrives in California, she rents an apartment from Dan Pinto, a landlord with a serious Batman obsession, who is also an aspiring screenwriter, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton). The apartment she rents is, of course, in the same neighborhood Taylor lives in. Dan takes a strong liking to Ingrid, something that she takes advantage of. There are times where he wants to help Ingrid out, but there are other instances where he will become an unwilling participant in her schemes to win and keep Taylor’s friendship.
Ingrid doesn’t waste time attempting to ingratiate herself in Taylor’s life; she knows via Instagram all of the places that Taylor frequents. Ingrid thinks up a plan to quicken the pace, and make her first encounter with Taylor more meaningful. She decides to kidnap Taylor’s dog, knowing full well that she will be able to meet Taylor in person, when she returns the dog, to its grateful owner.
Ingrid’s plan works perfectly. When she returns the dog to Taylor and her husband, Ezra (Wyatt Russell), at their home, they ask her to stay for dinner. Ezra is a struggling artist, and it’s easy to see why, when he presents a sampling of his work. According to Taylor, the reason Ezra’s art hasn’t sold, is because he’s bad at self-promotion. Of course, Ingrid, desperate for Taylor’s friendship, purchases a painting from Ezra for two thousand dollars. From that moment forward, Ingrid and Taylor become inseparable, just as Ingrid had hoped for, but her fantasy life, which she strives at every turn to keep together, soon faces challenges. Those challenges arrive in the form of Taylor’s obnoxious brother, Nicky (Billy Magnussen). He is on to Taylor, but might be persuaded to keep quiet for the right amount of hush-money. Additionally, the arrival of Harley (Pom Klementieff), who has over a million followers on Instagram, and has befriended Taylor, also threatens to cause a divide in her and Ingrid’s friendship.
What lengths will Ingrid go to, to keep her friendship with Taylor intact? Will Ingrid’s facade be discovered by Taylor, putting her back to square one? If it is what will she do next?
The ensemble cast works very well in their respective roles. The film, which is part comedy and drama, has a runtime of 98 minutes. The movie, did at times, surprise me by veering off from taking a cinematic path that would’ve been more formulaic, and entering some disturbing territory. “Ingrid Goes West” premiered on January 20, 2017 at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is the feature directorial debut for Matt Spicer. In addition, Spicer co-wrote the screenplay for the movie with David Branson Smith, (Bad Sports). The script that was written by Spicer and Smith is culturally relevant for the time in which we live. The filmmakers provide an accurate commentary on how social media can sometimes be taken to unhealthy extremes, when fact based reality and fantasy blend together in a person’s mind.