Let me set the scene for you: I wake up at 8:30 AM in Los Angeles, California, getting ready to walk my dog. While getting dressed (because I can’t very well walk my dog around the neighborhood in my pajamas), I check the weather on my phone. It’s not even 9:00 in the morning and it’s nearly 80 degrees. SO, I quickly decide that, after my dog son Huey’s walk, I will go somewhere that has air conditioning and remain there for at least a couple of hours. And that is how I got to see a wonderful little film called Ingrid Goes West. Because it feels like hell outside.
Anyway, I went into this film knowing very little. All I knew was what the poster looked like since it has been plastered all over Venice (where I work), since a great big bulk of the film takes place there. Let me give you a short synopsis: Ingrid, played by Aubrey Plaza, has just been discharged from a mental institution. You see, her mother had died and she became really attached to this woman on Instagram. So much so that, when she wasn’t invited to the woman’s wedding (because why wouldn’t she be invited when the only interaction they’ve ever had was through Instagram), she showed up and pepper-sprayed her in the face. Hence, the mental institution. So, she’s discharged. It doesn’t take her long, however, to find a new internet obsession, an Instagrammer by the name of Taylor Sloane, played by Elizabeth Olsen. Ingrid then, taking the money that her mother left her, moves to sunny Venice, California and begins to insert herself into Taylor’s life, and is eventually successful at doing so. That is, until it all unravels before our very eyes.
This film was engrossing. This is one of those films where nearly every character has some awful aspect to them, but you keep watching solely because you need to know what happens to them. Whether it’s good or bad, you don’t care. You just want to know.
Aubrey Plaza was tremendous. I would say that she was unrecognizable at times. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a role like this, but I do hope to see more. Elizabeth Olsen was a big draw for me to see this film (not that Aubrey Plaza wasn’t. They both were). I have loved Elizabeth Olsen ever since seeing Martha Marcy May Marlene (If you haven’t seen that film, I highly recommend it). So, I was expecting a good performance from her, and I was not disappointed. The entire cast, in fact, was wonderful in their performances. It was quite impressive.
The one thing I do wonder about this film is how long will it be relevant? It’s crazy relevant right now. So many people make money off of being “insta-famous”. It’s actually amazing to see. Right now, we are a very self-obsessed culture. We want everybody to see what we’re doing. But, it’s never actually true. Everything is always fabricated some way. Things are always set up to look better than they are. So, my question is, if Instagram goes away (like most social media platforms eventually do), does this film become dated? Possibly. Just think about how many times you laugh when a film from 10+ years ago mentions Myspace. And, it’ll be a real shame if this film ever feels dated because it is so genuinely good.
The entire film looked as if there were filters over it, which I thought was clever since, you know, Instagram plays such a big role in the film.
Overall, I’d say this film is more heartbreaking than anything else. The main character of Ingrid eventually attempts suicide, posting a video on Instagram in the process. Her boyfriend (who is only her boyfriend, I feel, because she lied to so many people saying that he already was. Who knows if she does really care about him) is the one who calls 911 and saves her life. Once she wakes up in the hospital, the first thing she asks for is her phone. It’s a reflex. Her boyfriend, Dan Pinto (played by the wonderful O’Shea Jackson Jr.) informs her that her video went viral, that she now how thousands of followers, and that she even has her own hashtag, #IAmIngrid. The camera goes into a close-up on Ingrid’s face. We get a small smile, and then cut to black. Whatever happens next to her, we can be sure that it won’t be healthy by any means. And that’s what makes it so sad.
I’m happy that I saw this film. I really did truly enjoy it. Have you seen it yet? What did you think? I’d love to discuss!