Ingrid Goes West

First Hit:  A wonderful reflection of the impact of social media on people.

This is an interesting story about how getting caught up in social media, like Instagram, can alter one’s perception of what relationships consist of.

The film begins with Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) getting herself in a tizzy over not being invited to a wedding. She perceives that she is a best friend of the bride. Breaking into the wedding, she squirts pepper spray into the eyes of the bride and escapes. We learn that the bride never met Ingrid before – just through Instagram.

Ingrid’s mom has just died and because Ingrid was her caretaker, this probably contributed to her isolation and use of social media to reach out to the world. After the wedding fiasco, she isolates herself and searching social media, discovers Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) on social media.

Taylor makes her living by being an “influencer” on Instagram. She photographs herself in locations and with products and because of the size of her audience, companies pay her. Taylor lives in Southern California with her artist husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell). Ingrid, armed with money her mother left her, heads to CA to find Taylor and to find a new life.

She rents a studio from Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) who ends up becoming her friend. Her first step after “following” Taylor on Instagram, is to track her down by going to the places she posts on Instagram. One day she runs into Taylor and stealthily follows her to her home. Noting that Taylor and Ezra have a dog, named Rothko, she creates a plan to steal the dog and return the dog to get in good, close graces with Taylor.

This plan works and they end up becoming pals hanging out together. What Ingrid doesn’t know is that Taylor has no teal intention of making Ingrid a real friend. As long as Taylor gets something from the relationship, she lets Ingrid hang out with her and Ezra.

The film evolves to where it gets pretty twisted because Ingrid will do anything to be close to and hang out with Taylor. As Taylor’s brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) comes into the picture, he brings new audiences for Taylor and so Ingrid slips out of favor and importance to Taylor.

As we see how far Ingrid goes to stay in good graces with Taylor, I started to cringe. Nicky adds additional leverage against Ingrid by stealing her phone and threatening Ingrid with exposing her phone’s negative and intimate posts of Taylor to Taylor.

Spiraling into oblivion, Ingrid finds out that there are people who care, even if they were only known to her through social media. She also learns that she has the possibility of creating a real human relationship.

What I liked was how well Ingrid showed what it is like to be obsessive about pings on her phone. She made the feeling that her life depended on the pings, perfectly real.

Plaza is wonderful in this role. Her eyes and behavior really reflected the desperateness of her trying to connect the only way she knew how. This was a strong performance. Olsen was very good as the influencer who really didn’t care about the people who followed her. Russell was OK as Taylor’s husband. His abdicating to his wife’s preferences was well done. Jackson Jr. was strong as the landlord, friend, and lover with a Batman obsession. The story how he came to this obsession was wonderful. David Branson Smith and Matt Spicer wrote a fun script that came alive with the actors and direction by Spicer.

Overall: I liked how the social media obsession was portrayed as I am aware of people who’ve been hooked.