Underrated & Overlooked: Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Posted on 8 March 2021
By Roisin Gordon
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Social Media is a great way to connect with others and share moments from your life, but some are consumed with aspiring to live the picture perfect life of influencers and don’t always reflect our true selves.

Ingrid Goes West takes a dark and twisted look at how obsessing over social media and influencers can be addictive and the lengths that someone will go to befriend their social media idols.

The film opens with Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) an unhinged young woman addicted to Instagram, who attacks a girl she has been stalking, for not being invited to her wedding.

We soon learn that Ingrid misinterprets likes on her social media posts for meaningful connections with others, which really sets the tone for the film and gives us a taste as to what we are being let in for.

Following a stint in a psychiatric ward, Ingrid moves onto her next obsession, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), an influencer who lives a seemingly perfect life. Ingrid moves to LA where she stalks Taylor and eventually gains her friendship, but her obsession soon takes a dark turn and she will do anything to remain a part of her new bestie’s life.

The plot plays out similarly to an episode of Black Mirror, as director and writer Matt Spicer expertly blends a social media thriller with darkly comedic elements.

It’s a refreshing and relevant look at the era of Instagram celebrities, satirising the endless hashtags and inspirational quotes with their picture of the day, but often oozes an intense atmosphere that makes it uncomfortable to watch.

It shows that what we share about ourselves online doesn’t always reflect reality, both women are shown trying to live an Insta-perfect lifestyle and impress others but when you take away the filters you realise that not everything is as it seems.

One scene sees Ingrid try to impress Taylor and her circle of friends at a house party, but feels pushed out in favour of her more popular friend and even learns some truths about Taylor through her husband.

This shatters the illusions Ingrid has about her fabulous new friend, as she begins to realise that although she idolises Taylor, she doesn’t know the real her but an idealized version of her.

Ingrid lies and manipulates those around her to remain part of Taylor’s life, yet plays the victim when others catch onto her schemes. You don’t exactly root for her throughout the film, but you do find yourself on the edge of your seat to see how far she is prepared to go with her little act.

On the other hand we see that whilst Taylor is not an outright mean girl, she is shown to be rather narcissistic and shallow and as you go along you see that parts of her online persona is just a facade and the flaws begin to show.

Both lead actresses give fantastic performances, with Aubrey Plaza’s unnerving and deadpan Ingrid perfectly contrasting with Elizabeth Olsen’s naturally warm and charming Taylor. Upon first glance their characters could’ve easily been one-dimensional, but both women manage to give enough depth to their performances to make them feel more real.

Ultimately it is Plaza who steals the show, especially how she can effortlessly switch from a blank faced demeanor to perky and fun-loving in an instant.

O’Shea Jackson Jr is perhaps the most likeable character as Dan Pinto, who is Ingrid’s landlord and love interest. His laid-back demeanor and obsession with Batman makes him endearing to watch and he helps take the edge off Ingrid’s dark personality.

Ingrid Goes West is a smartly crafted and dark social media thriller, that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.