Film Review: Ingrid Goes West
Ingrid Goes West, Matt Spicer's cautionary tale about tech-savvy millennials whose fragile sense of self-worth is determined by social media, is dark, disconcerting and delicious, writes Damon Smith
THE soundtrack to modern life is a melancholic symphony of beeps, rings, chirps and pings, synchronised to the drum beat of fingers swiping back and forth across LED screens.
The thrilling melody of face-to-face conversation has been supplanted by a monotonous, staccato chorus of click. like. share. follow. comment. hashtag. post. chat. reply. tag. add. rofl. lurk. block. crying face emoji...
Matt Spicer's dark and disconcerting comedy drama is a delicious cautionary tale about tech-savvy generations, whose fragile sense of self-worth is determined by connections on social media.
As the eponymous heroine of Ingrid Goes West observes: "If you don't have anyone to share things with, what's the point of living?"
Squirm-inducing social awkwardness takes a selfie with jet-black humour in Spicer's script, co-written by David Branson Smith, which straps us in – ready or not – for a rollercoaster ride through the twisted psyche of one 20-something loner, who treats her mobile phone as an extension of her body.
Aubrey Plaza delivers a powerhouse performance in the title role, eliciting sympathy and discomfort in equal measure as her cyber-stalker's mental illness spirals sickeningly out of control in the aftermath of her mother's death.
Matters come to a head with a violent altercation at a wedding, and Ingrid Thorburn reluctantly confronts her warped perception of reality in a mental facility.
For years, Ingrid's best friend has been her mobile phone. It's an addiction that prevents her from nurturing healthy relationships with real people rather than avatars.
During her supposed rehabilitation, Ingrid develops an obsession with Californian socialite and It girl Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), who documents every facet of her dreamy, picture-perfect life on Instagram.
Cashing in a $60,000 inheritance from her mother, Ingrid moves to Los Angeles to be closer to Sloane, rents an apartment from Batman-fixated screenwriter Dan Pinto (O'Shea Jackson Jr) and stalks her unsuspecting prey from afar.
When an opportunity arises to gatecrash her idol's bohemian chic existence, Ingrid spins a web of lies to impress Sloane and her artist husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell). The two women become awkward friends but sisterly solidarity is strained by the arrival of Sloane's fun-loving brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen), who has a nose for nutcases.
Ingrid Goes West employs the idealised filters of the central character's online world to lure us into the quicksand of her aching loneliness. Plaza is blisteringly funny and horribly pathetic.
A seemingly throwaway scene in which Ingrid and Sloane take a road trip and sing along to R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo's ballad All My Life lurches between the two extremes as we glimpse the steely intent in Ingrid's eyes as she caterwauls: "All my life, I've prayed for someone like you."
Every syllable resonates in her tortured soul.
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INGRID GOES WEST (15, 98 mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Audrey Plaza, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Elizabeth Olsen, Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen. Director: Matt Spicer