Ingrid Goes West Review: Aubrey Plaza’s Hilarious Stalker Dark Comedy Set in the Instagram Era [Sundance]
Posted on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 by Peter Sciretta
It is only two days into the 2017 Sundance Film Festival but Ingrid Goes West is already my favorite of the seven films I’ve screened thus far. A hilarious dark comedy version of Single White Female, it stars Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen and is set in the age of social media idolatry.
Aubrey Plaza plays a mentally disturbed woman named Ingrid who becomes obsessed with an Instagram celebrity named Taylor Sloane (played by the wonderful Elizabeth Olsen) who appears to have the perfect life. Ingrid decides to use her inheritance to pack up and move to Los Angeles with plans to befriend Taylor in real life. The result is more dark comedy than psychological thriller, providing a ton of laughs in otherwise horrifying circumstances.
Ingrid Goes West is not just your average comedy film, but a smart commentary on our social media obsessed world. How many people do you follow on Instagram or Twitter that you feel like you know personally even though you don’t? We follow so many people from afar through their update streams and develop a connection that doesn’t really exist. Also, we fill our streams with a polished fantasy version of the life we want to have, and not the imperfect reality that we live day to day.
It’s not simple or cut and dry. Ingrid Goes West explores our fascination with social media from a number of angles, including a terrific performance from Wyatt Russell (previously of the “Playtest” episode of Black Mirror and 22 Jump Street). Olsen is great, but what else is new. Aubrey Plaza shows more range than she’s shown previously and will impress you quite a bit. I should mention that I screened this film at its premiere at the Library in Park City, almost eight years exactly after screening Plaza’s debut in the same theater. In my review of Mystery Team, I noted that “we’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of her.” And we have, but I don’t think we’ve seen the complete extent of her talents quite yet. She produces this film, and I would love to see her direct someday.
The surprise breakout performance of the film comes from O’Shea Jackson Jr., the rapper son of Ice Cube, who portrayed his father in Straight Outta Compton. I imagine that Jackson will be included on casting wish-lists for years to come. His character, who plays a neighbor to Ingrid, is an aspiring screenwriter obsessed with Batman — which leads to some incredible laugh out loud moments and (maybe a slight spoiler, you’ve been warned) possibly the best sex scene of the year.
The film is directed by first time feature director Matt Spicer and written by Spicer and David Branson Smith. Spicer wrote an episode of the David Wain TV series Wainy Days, has directed a couple short films, and is the writer on Disney’s upcoming Magic Camp and The Rocketeers.
If I have only one complaint about Ingrid Goes West it is that the story sticks to a formula that we’ve seen a hundred times before. Just as this adventure picks up you already have a good idea how this relationship will crash and burn. But even then, you won’t expect where it takes Ingrid. Unlike other films playing at this year’s fest (like I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore), Ingrid is able to balance the tonal shifts between black comedy and thriller.
/Film Rating: 8 out of 10Cool Posts From Around the Web: