Ingrid Goes West – movie review

by James Robins / 29 November, 2017
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A debut feature that’s a sharply funny satire of social media fixation.

A black comedy that plays like a Single White Female for the hashtag generation, Ingrid Goes West is a movie of sharp aim and a decent throw. It turns iPhones into bricks hurled through the glass of our online lives, shattering the filtered, vetted and perfected ideals we create on social media.

Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is obsessed with the lovely lives of others, her face permanently illuminated by the ghostly glow of a screen, the click of Instagram ‘‘likes’’ the rhythm to her days. She has just spent time in rehab, having turned up uninvited to a wedding and maced the bride, whom she’d been following.

Now she’s out, uncured, and has discovered the idyllic, emoji-littered life of Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), one of those faux-bohemian types who habitually photograph their quinoa-avocado-kale-rabbit-food lunches and say things like “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU THAT’S AMAZING YOU’RE THE BEST EVER.”

Flush with an inheritance after the death of her mother, Ingrid moves to California, makes friends with Taylor by ‘‘rescuing’’ her dog and struggles to hold her make-believe life together as it spins out of control.

Plaza is well known as the queen of cringe comedy and nowhere are her skills better displayed than as Ingrid, whose stilted interactions and ostentatious plays for attention make us writhe in our seats. There’s a deep well of sadness in her eyes, too, and only we know that merely cloning someone else’s beautified existence will never make her content.

Matt Spicer’s debut feature is both a sharply funny satire of poseurs and pretenders and a withering tragedy with no clean moral exits. It has serious contempt for almost everyone involved (except O’Shea Jackson Jr, who plays Ingrid’s dorky Batman-obsessed landlord).

Then again, why do we need these fake aspirations and false idols, anyway? Snappy and smart as it is, Ingrid Goes West is not quite clever enough to answer that far more searching question.

Video: One Media

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★1/2

This article was first published in the November 18, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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