Ingrid Goes West (2017)
Director: Matt Spicer
In the opening scene of ‘Ingrid Goes West’, Ingrid is sitting in a car crying hysterically and splashing makeup over her bridesmaid’s dress, right outside someone’s wedding. She is going through the Instagram feed of the bride, who is apparently having ‘the best day of her life’ inside. This seems to amplify Ingrid’s sadness and, in a sudden in a fit of rage, she crashes the wedding and maces the bride.
One would assume the two women would have been best friends at some point but we soon realize Ingrid was only the bride’s Instagram follower turned stalker. The two women were not even friends.
This plain revelation is shocking to say the least and the casual (comic) way this is all portrayed sets the tone for the movie splendidly.
Most of what transitions on the screen would make you laugh at first but will then hit you with sharp pangs of anxiety. And this remains true till the very end of the movie. Ingrid’s rash decisions are cringe worthy but unfold hilariously. The movie does a splendid job of hanging on a thread between comedy and drama.
Ingrid goes through a small therapy timeout but she obviously doesn’t change and is on the lookout for her next Instagram obsession.
Enter Taylor Sloane, self-proclaimed photographer who lives on Venice beach with her artist husband with over a hundred thousand Instagram followers. Ingrid moves to the west coast to befriend her new idol with some new inherited money. She goes to great but unsurprising lengths at first to befriend the beautiful socialite and then begins to infiltrate her life.
By luck or by pure chance Ingrid finally becomes her #BFF. For a brief moment, we see Ingrid happy. She is on a road trip with her new-found celebrity friend, who shares secrets with her and goes dancing with.
But something tells us, this is not going to end well. And after a lot of shocking-yet-funny events later the inevitable does happen.
Along her journey Ingrid meets a couple of people including the ‘Batman’ savvy neighbor Dan, who is clearly fascinated by her and Taylors husband, Ezra, the cool chic artist who isn’t entirely happy about her wife’s fake social media life and attention. The characters are very well written and serve as a reference point on how real/fake everyone else is in the movie. Some of the everyday scenes are satirized to be highly laughter inducing like asking a stranger to take a low angle photo.
But what really hits the nail home is the fact that Ingrid’s appalling behavior is highly relatable. Ingrid is an extreme version of what people do and feel every day. She is constantly on her phone, checks out Instagram obsessively, eats junk food, sulks and sleeps. She thinks her life sucks and envies the lives of people on Instagram, especially the ones with thousands of followers. She strives to be that person or at least befriend that person.
Ingrid believes, like many of us, that a good ‘online’ life means the same in the real world. In fact she is so driven by this idea, she doesn’t even seek romantic or real relationships. She uses and ultimately disappoints people around her. She overlooks real relationships to this end and does not realize the sad truth that is social media.
In this regard, the movie states the obvious. And in stating so, it opens a curtain we all know exists but aren’t too keen to find out what lies behind.
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A special mention about the amazing cast. Aubrey Plaza (April Ludgate from Parks and rec fame) plays Ingrid to perfection. Elizabeth Olsen is extremely convincing as an Instagram celebrity. The side characters’ Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Ezra (Wyatt Russell) are extremely good in the movie. O’Shea Jackson Jr. has a great role and might go down as one of the most memorable side characters in recent cinema.
‘Ingrid Goes West’ is about a lot of things but ultimately it is a movie about the purest human emotions – jealously, fear, hatred, friendship, belonging and above all loneliness. A definite must watch.