Ingrid Goes West (MovieMan Dan’s Guest Review)
A DARK SATIRE ON THE
SOCIAL MEDIA AGE
Intro: Matt Spicer’s “Ingrid Goes West” left a big splash at the Sundance Film Festival back in January where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and generated a lot of positive buzz for itself. All of these months later, the film is finally being released in North American cinemas from the folks at Neon Rated (in the US) and Mongrel Media (in Canada) who picked the film up after it’s successful premiere at the festival. It’s a film I was looking forward to for all of these months and I finally got my chance to see it recently.
So, Does it live up to the hype?
To answer the question in one word: Yes.
If you want my deeper thoughts and analysis you’ll have to keep reading. Before I dive in any deeper though, here’s the plot synopsis for those of you who are wondering what this one is even about.
Plot: Following a series of self-inflicted setbacks, young Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) escapes a humdrum existence by moving out West to befriend her Instagram obsession and LA socialite Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). After a quick bond is forged between these unlikeliest of friends, the façade begins to crack in both women’s lives — with comically malicious results.
Review: Matt Spicer’s indie dramedy: “Ingrid Goes West” is a Cautionary tale for those of us who find ourselves more and more trapped in today’s Social Media age. It’s a film that provides a welcome warning to the majority of the population who seemingly refuse to drop their phones – hooked to their screens. It’s a film about obsession, how we stupidly measure our value in likes and followers in today’s digital age and how people *especially the teens who are being born into all of this madness* can become obsessed and will do anything for these stats. It’s occasionally funny but it’s also really sad at times and it really makes you think about where we are going as a race.
It’s really a more than solid debut from writer-director: Matt Spicer who I can’t wait to see more work from in the future. It’s easy to see why this one made such a big splash at Sundance earlier in the year where it took home a well-deserved: Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. This film feels extremely relevant with its subject matter and modern themes and it’s a more than solid watch as such. We can all relate as I’m sure there’s nobody on the internet who doesn’t want more people to view their profiles, engage in their opinions and content, follow their business page, etc. We all want to be liked and some of us are willing to go to extreme measures in order to do so.
Aubrey Plaza stars as Ingrid – a character who provides an extreme example of all of this. Plaza provides a career best performance as a character who’s clearly suffering from the recent loss of her mother and maybe even some serious mental issues too as she desperately tries to make friends out of those she follows/stalks on social media. I didn’t know Plaza had it in her to give such a GREAT performance but yet here we are. These relationships her character has in the film are mostly one sided and are extremely unhealthy but she will do anything to make these people like her. She lies, steals and stalks in order to get to know these people and then tries to fake similar interests and forces herself into their lives in the hopes of sparking a real relationship.
While Ingrid sounds like a character who we *as an audience* would normally be told to hate – screenwriters: Matt Spicer & David Branson Smiths’ sharp screenplay makes it hard to do so because we also feel sorry for this character too while viewing her alone and so desperate to connect throughout the film. With this film, we watch as Ingrid finds her latest subject in Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) – a rising photographer residing in LA on Instagram and things of course go to extremes from here as Ingrid decides to move nearby. Plaza deserves all of the praise she has been getting so far and it’s really the performance that makes the film work as well as it does. She’s really believable in the role. She overshadows the rest of the cast including her co-stars: Elizabeth Olsen and O’Shea Jackson Jr. most notably. They both give really solid performances too but they are unable to compete with their less interesting characters.
Moving on: there’s a lot of tension here as we *as an audience* know that Ingrid will eventually get caught for her actions and that it can happen at any given time. She keeps digging her hole deeper and deeper as she continues to lie her way through various situations here and it’s intense. Matt Spicer shows great talent in the director’s chair here. This film is quite intense at times and the story moves in directions that I wasn’t really expecting. Even more praiseworthy is that all of the characters here have layers like Ingrid and they are developed quite well and it makes the conversations between characters all that more interesting. This film just flies by and with a run-time of 97 minutes – it rarely dragged for me.
In terms of flaws – there are some subplots that don’t really go anywhere at all and some unnecessary plot elements including one characters obsession with “Batman” *strangely enough: “Batman: Forever” that really felt out of place with the rest of the film. It may sound like a strange complaint but with characters bringing up this obsession constantly throughout the film: it really got on my nerves after a while. I don’t have many other complaints – I just didn’t flat out love this film nor do I think it’s great. It’s really solid and one of the better movies of the year for sure but it’s not a film I’ll want to go back and re-watch any time soon.
In Conclusion/My Verdict: 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars – “Ingrid Goes West” is timely and relevant. Writer/Director: Matt Spicer provides a great satire on today’s Social Media/Digital age and this is a film I would recommend to everyone in the target audience. It’s funny, it’s dark and even quite sad but it’s more than worth your time. It has a brisk pace, is sharply written and features a career best performance from: Aubrey Plaza and is a really fun and intense watch too. If you’re interested after reading my review, watching the trailer or by even reading the plot synopsis: I would say go check it out. It’s worth a watch at some point as one of the better movies of Summer 2017.
Canada: “Ingrid Goes West” is Now Playing in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Whitby, Oakville, Winnipeg & Victoria from the folks over at Mongrel Media. Further Expansions are set to follow in the coming weeks!
US: The folks at Neon Rated are handling the distribution on your end. The film is entering it’s third weekend of release this weekend and it’s playing in a lot of major City Centers. More expansions will follow in the coming weeks.