After being blown away by Aubrey Plaza’s performance in Emily The Criminal, I decided to check out some of her older movies. Ingrid Goes West is an indie dramedy leaning more towards comedy than drama following a mentally unstable girl obsessed with social media. To be more precise, she’s a lonely stalker looking to make friends with popular influencers. Nothing much has changed in the last five years and this movie’s depiction of influencers and hipsters is spot on. If you’re one of those jaded people who love dunking on these “trendsetters” with “perfect lives” you’re going to love this movie.
And full disclosure here, I’m technically a hipster. However, that doesn’t prevent me from laughing at them. And I do spend time on Instagram, it’s a nice little dopamine hitter and time killer while in the shitter. And I can bet that you stalked at least one person on social media, I know I have. Of course, not to the lengths Ingrid was willing to go but still. As you can see, Ingrid Goes West is a great conversation starter and not just a charming little movie. It’s not some deep character study that’s going to bore the shit out of you but a breezy black comedy.
Aubrey Plaza was perfect for this role since she’s also a standup comic. This meant she could easily shift between different kinds of deliveries channeling her inner crazy with stunning results. She does have that glint in her eyes that I’ve seen only a couple of times. Apart from her, we have two sons, Wyatt Russel (Kurt) and O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube) who were okay. On the other hand, Elizabeth Olsen nailed her role here, just like she did in Wind River.
Meet Ingrid Thorburn, a young woman who just crashed a wedding. That night was a culmination of a long period of mental instability and after some time in a psychiatric institution, Ingrid is finally free. Free and healthy to live her best life. Browsing through her Instagram feed she falls in love with California and decides to go move there. Will this new start help her become a better person is up to you to find out.
Spoiler alert, at first it won’t but then it will. Something that will become apparent after the first fifteen minutes of the movie. In that sense, it reminded me of A Simple Favor, another lighthearted comedy with stronger crime elements. Ingrid Goes West, however, references another movie, Single White Female, a nineties erotic thriller about a roommate from hell. So, I guess these are good choices if you’re looking for similar movies. And since I grew up during the nineties I can’t help mentioning The Cable Guy. Don’t you want somebody to love, don’t you need somebody to love?
And this brings me to the final point I wanted to talk about. Social media is just the latest vessel we humans are using to connect with each other. Over the centuries, we have used many different ways to not only make friends but also make sense of this world and ourselves. I think that the social media angle of Ingrid Goes West overshadowed a much more important question of mental health. And again this subject brings us to the tribal system of values and the way it defines not just ourselves as persons but also our worldview.
Ingrid is so desperate to be “verified” by popular Taylor because she wants the world to recognize her as a person. And to do that she needs to create this perfect little personality because god forbid you are depressed or out of touch. You’re a loser then and you will be thrown out of the gene pool. And if this drives you to kill yourself most of society will say that’s sad with some of them thinking that you’re weak and that there’s something wrong with you. They’re trying to create the tribal conditions from centuries ago because that makes them feel comfortable.
THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU! As we learn towards the end of the movie, it’s all fucking fake and just so not worth it. If you’re feeling down or depressed or under social pressure to “do something”, question why you feel that. The answers will lead you down the path of deconstruction of our society and yourself. It can be scary at first but just know that there are others out there who went through the same shit. Use the Internet for good and connect with them (Reddit appears to be the right choice) and turn the paradigm on its head. Rant over, Rabbit out.
Director: Matt Spicer
Writers: David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen
Fun Facts: Normal Mailer’s novel The Deer Park tells a similar story of people seeking fame in California, just like this movie.