Skip to main content

Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen are Excellent in Timely Comedy "Ingrid Goes West": Review


Film Review: Ingrid Goes West

Image result for ingrid goes west
I was worried based on the trailers and marketing for Ingrid Goes West that it was going to be a cautionary tale about the perils of social media. One of those condescending 'lessons' about how much better the world would be if we still used rotary phones and things like that. You know, stuff like this. Thankfully, Ingrid Goes West is not that, it's not even about social media despite being set in the Instagram Age.

Written by Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith and directed by Spicer, the movie is about Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), who has recently been released from a mental hospital and following the death of her mother decides to reinvent herself in Los Angeles, inspired by the Instagram feed of a seemingly perfect influencer named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Using clues from her Instagram, Ingrid tracks Taylor down and befriends her. Yes, Instagram plays a large part in the story, but it's one that could be (and has been) told in many other time periods in many other locations.

The movie is not condescending towards users of social media and technology, but it is filled with plenty of jokes about those things. There's such a specificity to the jokes that you'll either find them hysterical (like I did) or not get them at all (like the elderly couple sitting behind me. Apparently, the husband had trouble hearing because he kept asking his wife why everyone was laughing and there were parts where the wife confessed she didn't know what the joke was).
It's a film that's very much of its time, but that's not what it's commenting on. It's a story about loneliness, wanting to be accepted, and mental illness. Whether or not a comedy is the best vehicle in which to tell that story is up for debate, but I, for one, never thought the movie was mocking any of those topics.

The best part of Ingrid Goes West is Plaza's performance, a terrific blend of comedy and heartache. While we might not always be able to understand Ingrid's actions, which get increasingly stalkerish, we always understand the impulses behind them. Who hasn't spent time scrolling through social media wishing they were somewhere else? The rest of the cast is rounded out by Wyatt Russell as Taylor's husband, Billy Magnussen as Taylor's brother, and O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Ingrid's neighbor and friend. All three are great.


Image result for ingrid goes west poster It's a credit to both the script and Olsen's performance that Taylor never feels like a caricature or a joke. To Taylor, every meal, purchase, and outing is an opportunity for an Instagram and it would be very easy to play that up for laughs. She's the type of person who quotes Emerson in her beach pics, pretends to love Norman Mailer, and named her dog Rothko. But the audience can't help but like her and see the flawed human underneath the perfect facade. And that makes us sympathize with Ingrid all the more. Ingrid's dreams aren't unreasonable or unattainable, the woman she's idolizing is not a superhero (although Olsen is also an Avenger), she just wants a friend.

The first third of the film is excellent. The other two thirds are where the tone begins to warble a bit, but it's saved by its clever ending. There are not enough dramatic moments for this to be classified as a comedy-drama, but there is enough darkness to feel like a comedy that missed an opportunity to be something deeper. The only other complaint I had was that the visual style of the film remains the same throughout, despite Ingrid's surroundings and circumstances changing drastically.

My fear is that people not familiar with social media (not necessarily older people but probably a good number of older people) will see this movie as something it's not. They'll blame social media for Ingrid's mental illness while refusing to recognize the real problem that is the mental health epidemic in this country. They'll see it as another chance to take a jab at the clueless young people 'always stuck on their phones' and walk out of the theatre proud of themselves for not being so dumb. So, go see this wonderful little movie, unless you think you are going to interpret it like that, in which case, don't.


Ingrid Goes West hits theatres Friday, August 11th.

What are your thoughts on Ingrid Goes West? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Ten Best TV Shows of 2019

Best of TV 201910. BH90210 (Fox) What an unexpected delight this show was. While the original Beverly Hills, 90210 was before my time, I found plenty to enjoy in this funny and shiny reboot. The premise sees the cast playing fictionalized versions of themselves preparing to reboot the '90s teen drama that made them famous. Their willingness to poke fun at their images made for a great satire of celebrity culture. 9. The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4 in the UK, Netflix in the US)In its tenth year, this show is old news. Nothing new or surprising can be evinced from this format. So why on Earth did this season nearly bring me to tears multiple times? I don't have an explanation, I just know how it made me feel. Perhaps it had something to do with this crop of contestants, but the nicest reality competition there is made for some for most pleasant viewing experiences of the year.  8. Mrs. Fletcher (HBO) Based on the Tom Perrotta novel, Mrs. Fletcher charts a woman's journey …

Disney Review: "Pinocchio" (1940)

"Pinocchio" (1940)

Based on the children's novel "The Adventures of Pinocchio", "Pinocchio" was supposed to be Disney's big follow-up to their big hit "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves". Released in February 1940, and despite positive reviews from critics, the film was a major disappointment at the box office. Maybe this was because the film couldn't open in certain markets because of World War II, or maybe the box office returns just seemed disappointing because the unprecedented success of "Snow White..". Either way, most people wouldn't expect a film that's so well remembered today to have bombed during its initial release. But, thankfully, how "Pinocchio" preformed in 1940 has nothing to do with the quality of the film. The film was everything people expected, and more.


The Ten Best Films of 2017

Top Ten Films of 2017

10. I, TonyaYou have to hand it to Margot Robbie, who proved her acting chops and her capability as a producer with the same film. Robbie transforms her voice and her physicality in order to play infamous figure skater Tonya Harding at various stages in her life. She's never a perfect match for the real-life Harding, but she's so different from the Australian bombshell that we see on the red carpet that it's the type of performance that wins Oscars. Also fantastic in the film are Allison Janney as Harding's mother, Sebastian Stan as her ex-husband, the consistently under-appreciated Julianne Nicholson as her coach. Also featuring zippy editing and a great soundtrack, I, Tonya raises some very timely questions about classism, the media, and the nature of truth. 


9. Battle of the SexesIt was not immediately clear to me after seeing Battle of the Sexes whether or not it would end up on this list. But when it came time to for me to pick ten movies, I co…