Published Aug 14, 2017The notion that real human connection is suffering thanks to digital interaction is hardly new, but Matt Spicer's take on the modern day phenomena in his feature debut, Ingrid Goes West, is certainly refreshing — and astutely terrifying.
In an age of social media influencers, Aubrey Plaza stars as the over-influenced, Instagram celebrity-stalking Ingrid Thorburn. We first meet her obsessively refreshing a feed of photos from a #perfect wedding, only to discover that she's actually IRL lurking in the shadows of the event — and she's never even met the bride. A restraining order and psychiatric hospital visit later, she finds her newest girl crush in the form of Taylor Sloane (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and heads to California to mimic, and then mingle in, her Insta-ready life.
As Thorburn relapses into old habits and her web of carefully crafted lies begins to unravel, Spicer takes social media obsession to its darkest extremes. Yet, as hyperbolic as the plotline seems, it barely reaches beyond the realm of what has already become a disturbing reality for the iGen; as much as the film skewers the superficiality of social media, it never denies or downplays its prominence.
Amidst Ingrid Goes West's laugh-out-loud one-liners and harsh mockeries (particularly when it comes to L.A.'s avocado toast-eating, balayage-obsessed, Joshua Tree-visiting blogger types) is incredibly perceptive commentary that, rather remarkably, doesn't come across as patronizing or preachy. Instead, the film serves as a hilarious but timely reminder of the dangers of being ruled by our phones and the lives social media allows us to construct and absorb.
Is Ingrid Goes West going to inspire an entire generation to return to an age where real human connection was valued more than follows, likes and emoji-laden comments? Maybe not. But it's well worth putting down your phone and paying attention to for an hour-and-a-half. The movie's message resonates — and you'll feel guilty as fuck when you instinctively reach to check your phone's notifications before you're even out of the theatre.