Ingrid Goes West is the most accurate criticism of but also slight homage to the social media age. It does not hesitate to confront the narcissistic, ego-driven world of Instagram and Snapchat and what-have-you, but also recognizes that, if used properly, social media can connect the world and be a platform where people can share ideas, build relationships and document their lives.
However, that’s a big IF, as there is no such thing as a social media police to step in and tell people who are overly-consumed that they need to chill out and take a break from their FB page. One such person who is in desperate need from a break is Ingrid (played by Aubrey Plaza), the central character of this movie who is so emotionally damaged and fractured that any reasonable mental health professional would tell her NOT to go on social media. We learn later in the movie the specific reasons why she is so anxious and aggressive, but by that point it’s far too late, as she has already devoted her time and inheritance money to becoming obsessed with Taylor Sloane (played by Elizabeth Olsen), a beach blonde photographer who is final evolved form of every Instagram personality you’ve ever met or followed. Taylor is friendly and engaging but her persona is carefully crafted, as she essentially makes her dough by name-dropping brands on her IG posts who are in need of some digital love.
Married to Taylor is Ezra (played by Wyatt Russell,) a bohemian artist, Burning Man type who actually advocates against obsession with digital culture but is just as obnoxious as Taylor. This makes sense, as the only thing more annoying than a person too obsessed with their IG follower count is a person who proudly proclaims from every rooftop party he goes to that he just doesn’t find social media to be that worthwhile. The median between Taylor, Ingrid and Ezra is Dan Pinto (played by O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Ingrid’s landlord and later romantic stooge, who honestly is the most normal person in the movie. He doesn’t say social media is evil, but he doesn’t say it’s that amazing either. He just uses it for what he wants to use it for and lives his own life in the meantime, where vapes and works on a script for a Batman series.
Seeing all of these characters clash is a funny, cathartic experience, dealing out harsh truths in a movie that refuses to give easy answers or cop out endings. It’s a breakout performance from Plaza, one that stays true to her sarcastic, sardonic nature but really shows that the comedian has a serious dramatic backbone. The film also proves that O’Shea Jackson Jr. is more than just his father’s son and one of the better actors of his generation. And while we love to point our fingers down and raise our noses up at Ingrid, she has more courage than all of us because she admits she’s crazy and that social media is just the method of her madness. But if you liked this review, please follow me on Twitter at @MovieReviewDay, and like and share with your friends!