INGRID GOES WEST gets 7.5/ 10 Making a # out of things

Directed by Matt Spicer
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jnr.

7.5/ 10

Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is obsessed with social media. The perfect lives she sees everyday from the screen of her smart-phone give her hope that one day her life can be as idyllic, and as admired. After a disastrous start, prompting a brief stint in a mental clinic, Ingrid decides to set out west to be closer to her newest social media obsession. Selling up her mother’s estate, Ingrid heads to LA with plans on how to insert herself into the life of Instagram influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen).

Ingrid Goes West is an extremely uncomfortable comedy about social media, and the lengths to which we go to in projecting the perfect life, in our attempt to belong. It is biting satire that pushes the central character’s behavior well past comfortable levels in her attempts to achieve acceptance, making it difficult for audiences to watch at times, and that is part of what makes Ingrid Goes West so successful as a film. The film mercilessly peels away the social facades from the main characters often leaving them exposed. That commentary is so cutting, we are so often as viewers caught in that crux between laughter and concerned empathy for the central character of Ingrid, that it can often make you squirm.

The basis for this is certainly Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) as Ingrid. Manipulative, two-faced and unhinged, Ingrid should not be a likeable character, yet she also carries a deep-emotional wound (one that the chalk board in an LA cafe, encourages her to share with her waiter) that makes us care for her. Ingrid is a broken soul, and Plaza by the virtue of her performance, encourages us to look beyond her flaws and empathise with her, even when her decisions are clearly destructive. Plaza’s trademark flat delivery, and her great sense of comic timing are obvious attributes here, but the actress also gets to stretch her range through some pretty intense emotional sequences.

The rest of the cast, also manages to play it right down the line. O’Shea Jackson Jnr. (Straight Outta Compton) as Ingrid’s landlord with a Batman obsession is charmingly dorky, without playing to the nerd cliches. Elizabeth Olsen (Captain America: Civil War) fills the vintage cowboy boots of the boho social influencer with relish.

Ingrid Goes West may not be the most comfortable viewing, but the sharp script and Plaza’s immaculate performance as an emotionally damaged character make it a fine watch.