Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is an emotionally fragile Instagram stalker who, upon being humiliated, heads west to L.A in an attempt to befriend Instagram celebrity Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen).
Ingrid and Taylor’s relationship plays out almost like a disaster film. From the off, you’re waiting for the moment that the shit hits the fan. It’s brilliantly paced and totally compelling to watch. Even during the happier moments, you can’t help but feel on-edge because it’s made clear that the friendship can’t last.
The film is a not-so-subtle damning criticism of the way we use social media to portray our not-so-perfect lives. It is similar to the Nosedive episode of Black Mirror (S3E1), and in that way, Ingrid Goes West isn’t really telling us anything most of us don’t already know. Living you’re whole life on social media probably isn’t the sign of an emotionally healthy person.
However, the film deals with mental health and the role that social media plays within the issue in a novel way. Not only does it make you despair at the enormity of the role social media plays in some people’s lives, but it also makes you feel a considerable amount of sympathy for those that feel like they need it.
The film offers a harrowing take on the vices that drive the social media phenomenon. Jealousy, anxiety, obsession and deception are the overwhelming themes which makes for quite a depressing and disturbing experience. At times, it almost reaches the point where it feels like a psychological horror as we see Ingrid being torn apart by her obsessions.
In Aubrey Plaza, the film has an actor who is brilliantly compelling to watch. She portrays Ingrid as such a well formed character. She’s a manic depressive and yet she brings levity to the film. There’s so much depth to her character and Plaza is simply brilliant.
Despite the darkness of the film, it has a real heart in it and this is mainly thanks to the character of Dan, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. Not only does this character give some much needed levity to the film but he’s also one of the few characters who has a genuine relationship with Ingrid. The film cleverly juxtaposes Ingrid’s ‘real’ relationship with Dan and the ‘fake’ relationship with Taylor to great effect.
Ingrid Goes West is a clever and heartbreaking look at mental illness and social media.