Review: Dark comedy “Ingrid Goes West” satirizes social media, sheds light on mental health


Aubrey Plaza stars as Ingrid Thorburn in “Ingrid Goes West,” a dark comedy about social media obsession. Image source: Ingrid Goes West’s official website.

Have you ever found yourself 40 weeks deep on a stranger’s Instagram account? Oh come on, admit it. Haven’t we all done this? Co-written and directed by Matt Spicer, Ingrid Goes West” tells the story of Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), an insecure young woman who travels to Los Angeles to befriend her idol, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), a self-appointed Instagram influencer who travels the world with her photogenic dog and artist husband.

I know what you’re thinking: this movie sounds like “Single White Female” in the social media age. Although Ingrid is certainly guilty of stalking and her methods are sometimes violent, she has no malicious intent behind her obsessive behavior because she merely wants a friend.

Because Ingrid fails to form connections with people in a conventional way, she instead resorts to following people she admires on social media. In one scene, Ingrid agonizes over whether to comment “hahahaha” or “heheheh” or “hehe” on one of Taylor’s Instagram posts. Which is better? Which would Taylor say?

Ingrid then tries to insinuate herself into Taylor’s life — going as far as kidnapping her dog, so she can return it to Taylor and look like a hero to become her friend. Taylor’s obnoxious brother Nicky, however, who refers to Ingrid as Olga, threatens to expose her past and reveal her intentions to Taylor. Despite the fact that Ingrid is definitely unhinged, her character ultimately manages to gain the audience’s sympathy in the film.

Ingrid Goes West” also has a comedic undertone, cleverly poking fun at Instagram, emphasizing its curated nature and phoniness. Ingrid, while aware of the perfectly edited pictures shared on social media, still tries to befriend internet stars nonetheless and attempts to imitate their every move. Ultimately, Ingrid hopes that some of their happiness and success will help herself. Another humorous aspect that the film succeeds in satirizing is Los Angeles stereotypes — yogis, artists, vegans who drink from Mason jars and travel to Joshua Tree for the weekend — you get the idea.

Ingrid Goes West” integrates satire while also exploring serious issues, such as loneliness, depression and the basic human desire to connect with others. While Elizabeth Olsen is highly enjoyable in the role of Taylor Sloane, Aubrey Plaza ultimately steals the show with her deft comedic and emotional timing. The way the audience feels about her character radically shifts from one scene to the next: sometimes she’s pathetic, horrible and mean-spirited. Other times, she is downright hilarious and quirky.

O’Shea Jackson Jr., who portrays Ingrid’s landlord, is equally funny as a Batman-obsessed struggling screenwriter, and his chemistry with Plaza is hysterical.

Overall, “Ingrid Goes West” is the ideal summer movie that is both entertaining and enlightening. Produced by Tim and Trevor White of Star Thrower Entertainment, “Ingrid Goes West” is currently showing at ArcLight Culver City, Pacific Theaters at The Grove and AMC Century City in Los Angeles. “Ingrid Goes West” is rated R for language throughout, drug use and sexual content.

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“Ingrid Goes West” is a 2017 dark comedy co-written and directed by Matt Spicer. The film stars Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza, both of whom give excellent performances. The movie is rated R for language throughout, drug use and sexual content.