Review: Ingrid Goes West | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: Ingrid Goes West

Film Editor John James is impressed by social-media-satire Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid Goes West, is a satire not for the ages, but for our specific quagmire of an age. It is also a startlingly accurate and hilariously realised study of a nutcase. Ingrid, freshly released from mental incarceration, is intensely damaged. Bereft of any form of emotional or social understanding, Ingrid bases her entire reality around social media, specifically Instagram. Confronted with anything that deviates from this ‘reality’ (not being invited to the wedding of a woman she’s never met) can leave her prone to violent rages and crippling existential crises. The film is brilliantly dark and self-aware, at times taking on more motifs from the slasher genre than a comedy as Ingrid first identifies, then methodically stalks her ‘friend’ (victim) across LA’s irritating boutique pop ups and organic coffee shops.

Aubrey Plaza, who I’ve always thought was a bit limited on Parks and Recreation, is sublime here. Where April Ludgate relied on sarcasm, Plaza’s Ingrid is a more animated nutter. From the demented robotic drift of her eyes down her screen, to the spasm like grimaces she pulls whenever her charade is threatened, Ingrid is a protagonist only in terms of the films title, remaining utterly alienated from the audiences’ trust or sympathy.

Aubrey Plaza, who I’ve always thought was a bit limited on Parks and Recreation, is sublime here
This alienation is integral to achieving the films intended effect as an objective satire rather than a standard ‘laugh, learn and grow comedy’. Chillingly, there is no growth here only regression. At the beginning of the film Ingrid shows herself to be consciously adrift, manipulative and calculating and at the end of the film she is far worse. The film presents no resolution, just sordid evolution, a brave call that earns it plaudits (from me).  

As a satire ‘IGW’ is a tremendously interesting film. Mat Spicer reserves all of Ingrid’s intimate and relaxed moments for when she’s alone with her phone. The camera tracking over her shoulder shooting her reflection contained within her phone could, if you like, hint at the fatal duality between reality and the reality we present to others? Or, you could focus on the utter depravity of Ingrid’s smile, suggesting a bizarre contentment beyond decency. Or that her hair looks like she’s been chewing on it. Spicer has a lot of fun transposing Ingrid onto and amongst the iconography and clichés she’s long thirsted for.

LA as a place is mercilessly assaulted, its almost patented artificiality dissected at every angle
Her abject lack of self-awareness renders her utterly incapable of hiding the spiritual affirmation this environment gives her, lending relatively innocent scenes like Ingrid riding a bike down palm-tree lined streets sinister undertones. LA as a place is mercilessly assaulted, its almost patented artificiality dissected at every angle. Morons in coffee shops ask customers the question of the day whilst morons around camp fires bemoan that somebody could have an acquire a taste in art rather than earn it. Every Instagram post takes as long as a fashion shoot, and every throw away comment is read aloud out by the character voices, showing how odd their empty praise and canned excitement sound.

Away from Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen does a wonderful job as the vapid, lost and vulnerable Instagram star that Ingrid idolises. Taylor is a woman so lost in pretence her existence amounts to little more than searching for, catching and then manipulating events into moments she never experienced. To Olsen’s severe credit this desperation is obvious to the audience and to those close to her. To everyone, but Ingrid. To us, Taylor is a tedious but ultimately tragic figure, not worth a fraction of the adulation her persona unhealthily relies on. To Ingrid, Taylor, LA and everything they represent are unimpeachable standards of success, happiness and fulfilment that her entire sense of self-worth is modelled and depends on. Who’d have thought you could mine such compelling and lofty stakes from something as pointless as Instagram?

Verdict: One of the most interesting and relatable comedies in years. If Ingrid Goes West was an Instagram post it would struggle to breach the 11 like barrier, and that’s why it’s brilliant.

Rating: 8/10

Tinged with tragedy, touched by greatness.


2nd December 2017 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

1st December 2017 at 9:03 pm

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