Head North, East, South or West as needed to see ‘Ingrid Goes West’

Aubrey Plaza produces, stars and shines brilliantly

Aubrey Plaza in ‘Ingrid Goes West’
Our Score:

Today, when you look at social media, you see that the narrative can be overtaken by people just from Twitter and Instagram. I know when Ferguson was going down those first few nights, I was watching feeds on the ground on Twitter, not CNN – Ava DuVernay

The best evidence of the importance and relevance of writer/director Matt Spicer’s feature film debut Ingrid Goes West was found in the sparsely populated auditorium where I watched it.  Without exception, when I walked in and sat down, every individual in the room was actively engaged with their cellphone.  While it is probable a few of them were playing Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga, or some other game, it is also probable a number of them were engaged in using social media.

The film begins with “Ingrid Thorburn” (Aubrey Plaza – The End of Love) sitting in a car outside a wedding reception.  We watch her walk in against a backdrop of tweets from the bride about how wonderful her wedding and life are, complete with hashtags and emojis.  Ingrid walks up to the bride and lets loose with pepper-spray into the bride’s face.

She returns after the requisite stint in a “treatment facility” to find that her late mother had left her over $60,000.  Ingrid uses the money to travel to Venice, CA, as she’s found someone new to be obsessed with on social media.  “Taylor Sloane” (Elizabeth Olsen – Liberal Arts) makes a good living as a social media personality.  She and her husband “Ezra O’Keefe” (Wyatt Russell – Folk Hero & Funny Guy) live in a nice house in Venice and also own a place out in Joshua Tree.  Ingrid uses Taylor’s social media presence to shop where she shops, eat where she eats, and eventually to take Taylor’s dog from the home.  In returning the missing mutt, she has a way to ingratiate herself with Taylor.  She borrows the truck owned by her landlord, “Dan Pinto” (O’Shea Jackson Jr. – Straight Outta Compton) to help Taylor tow a trailer out to the Joshua Tree property.

Things are going very well in Ingrid’s plan to become Taylor’s real-life BFF until Taylor’s brother arrives unexpectedly.  “Nicky Sloane” (Billy Magnussen – The Big Short) is a recovering drug addict/alcoholic whose claims to be sober are quickly proven to be a façade.  But he has a canny instinct for seeing through people and he is able to discern what Ingrid is really up to.  As a result she and Dan concoct an ill-advised plan, although Dan doesn’t know the real reason Ingrid needs protection from Nicky.  Things go south quickly for Ingrid after this.

Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza in ‘Ingrid Goes West’

This is satire with an edge as sharp as a samurai’s katana.  While Ingrid’s existence after she has gone west is filled with falsehoods, the same can be said of the social media portrait Taylor paints of her life.  Calling it curated is generous at best.  Staged for maximum exposure is more accurate.  In fact, every character in this film is flawed to a degree, although Dan’s obsession with Batman might be seen as mildly endearing.

Elizabeth Olsen and Wyatt Russell are well matched as the couple who maintains an aura of having “the best life” while struggling with their individual issues.  But this film belongs to Aubrey Plaza.  She hits every single peak and valley of Ingrid’s emotional roller-coaster ride both verbally and nonverbally.  Best performance I’ve seen so far this year.  O’Shea Jackson, Jr. does his best to steal scenes in his limited time and is a lot of fun to watch.

Ingrid Goes West opened in Los Angeles and New York City in limited release on August 11, 2017 and will open everywhere else on August 25, 2017.

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Brian Milinsky

Brian Milinsky has served in the military, been an FM D.J. and an award-winning radio news reporter/anchor/writer/editor. He is presently a screenwriter and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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