09th Oct2017

LFF 2017: ‘Ingrid Goes West’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Review by Matthew Turner

Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, Pom Klementieff | Written by Matt Spicer, David Branson Smith | Directed by Matt Spicer


A Single White Female for the Instagram generation, this sharp-edged stalker comedy from co-writer / director Matt Spicer succeeds as both scathing social media satire and jet-black comedy, while maintaining a surprising amount of sympathy for its central character.

Aubrey Plaza plays lonely weirdo Ingrid Thorburn, who spends time in an asylum for pepper-spraying a bride at her wedding, in retaliation for not being invited. It turns out that they were never really friends – the bride was someone Ingrid had followed on Instagram and she’d formed an unhealthy fixation on her after a reply to her comments.

After her release, Ingrid quickly forms a new attachment to Insta-celebrity Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), after reading about her in a magazine profile. Using her $60,000 inheritance from a recent bereavement, Ingrid moves from Pittsburgh to Venice Beach and begins stalking Taylor via her social media posts, eventually abducting her dog so as to have a reason to contact her.

Ingrid quickly ingratiates herself with Taylor and the pair become fast friends, but the arrival of Taylor’s obnoxious brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) threatens to ruin everything. Meanwhile, Ingrid strikes up a relationship with her wannabe screenwriter landlord Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr), in part because she’s already passed him off to Taylor as her boyfriend.

Plaza is terrific as Ingrid, managing to retain our sympathy even when she’s clearly unhinged. Her sense of loneliness is both palpable and relatable, and the scene where she confesses that she doesn’t know how to fix what’s wrong with her is genuinely moving.

Similarly, Olsen perfectly skewers the shallowness of Insta-friendships as Taylor – there’s a warmth to her when she initially connects with Ingrid and the sudden coldness when she ditches her for a new best friend (a model with millions of Instagram followers, played by Guardians of the Galaxy 2′s Pom Klementieff) is brutal.

As for Jackson (aka Ice Cube Jr), he comes close to stealing the film outright, thanks to a brilliantly sustained running joke about his obsession with Batman that includes one of the funniest sex scenes in recent memory (“Tell me Gotham City needs me…”)

Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith’s script expertly skewers every one of its intended targets and doesn’t feel the need to spell everything out (e.g. by not going into detail on Ingrid’s relationship with her deceased mother). There are also lots of enjoyable throwaway details, such as Taylor doing paid social media promotion for a breakfast place that serves horrible food.

If there’s a problem, it’s only that the ending – while perfect for the film itself – sends out a message that could easily be misinterpreted by anyone who might have more in common with Ingrid than they’d like to admit. In that event, the filmmakers might be advised to keep a close eye on their #IAmIngrid hashtag, just in case it goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

**** 4/5


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