Ingrid Goes West  is the quirky and outrageous tale of one young woman’s determination to be considered a somebody. A modern-day The Talented Mr Ripley , Aubrey Plaza stars as Ingrid Thorburn, a somewhat unstable woman whose mission to be seen in a new light takes her across the coast to California and directly into the paths of insta-famous Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) and aspiring screenwriter Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr, in his 2nd feature film).
A Mirror Image: There’s something highly fascinating about people who are internet famous. How and why they are popular often alludes us, confuses us, enthralls us; when you get underneath the number of followers they’re really just average, aesthetically pleasing people. Taylor is the epitome of the “California It-Girl”, crafting a life through social media that makes the mundane seem exotic. Ingrid represents the everyman who looks upon the hashtag-no-filter posts and sees a more desirable, active, and popular lifestyle. She yearns for attention and goes to great lengths to obtain it by latching onto Taylor and attempting to mimic her lifestyle. Although their methods may differ, Director Matt Spicer does a wonderful job of showcasing how everybody in Taylor Sloane’s world is as fake as each other and trying just as hard as Ingrid to keep their charade intact.
A True Lover and Friend: On Ingrid’s other side is her landlord and neighbor, the Batman-obsessed Dan Pinto. Perhaps the only person in the film’s universe who remains unapologetic and true to his sense of self. Although he enables Ingrid’s hare-brained schemes, acting as her boyfriend simply so she can impress Sloane’s idiot brother, Dan is not above calling her out on her crazy and acts as the moral compass that Plaza’s character seems to lack. His feelings for Ingrid, whether romantic or otherwise, are genuine and he proves to be the only person in her life who truly appreciates everything about her. Jackson, who has mysteriously only featured in one other film, is an absolute scene stealer, who balances the comedic and dramatic elements with total brevity.
A Sharp Criticism: The concept of selfie culture has been a topic of scrutiny for some time now as millennials and the like are advertising every facet of their lives on social media. In this day and age, anybody with halfway decent editing skills and an Instagram account can become famous – they don’t even have to have particular talents, which is what makes Taylor Sloane such a real character. Despite what Ingrid may believe, and despite what many believe of the internet stars they idolize there is nothing remarkable about Sloane or the people she represents. What Spicer’s film does so well, is show how intoxicating this make-believe lifestyle can be and while this need to have a constant online presence is unshakeable, Spicer’s film remarks that what is necessary these days is to ensure our online presence is nothing short of genuine.