Director: Matt Spicer
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr.,Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, Pom Klementieff
Running: 98 minutes
Have you ever stopped to think about how much time we spend on social media, the pictures that we like and the friends that you follow? Do we really like the pictures that we ‘like’ or do we ‘like’ pictures to get ‘likes’ back? Have I said the word like too many times?
All good questions which are raised in Matt Spicer’s debut, INGRID GOES WEST, a dark satire on social media and a film that ironically has its own Instagram page.
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is our picture liking, social media obsessive. She’s the sort of person that turns up to a friend’s wedding uninvited to spray peppermint into the bride’s eyes – I say this because this is how the film opens. Ingrid finds out she wasn’t invited via the many pictures posted on Instagram, jealous and upset, she ‘likes’ every picture she sees before rushing out the car with her peppermint spray in hand. We later find out that Ingrid only knew the bride because she had commented on one of Ingrid’s pictures and suddenly Ingrid’s problems are far worse than not being invited to a wedding.
Ingrid is the embodiment of social media obsession, her happiness is reliant on her Instagram feed and how many followers she has. Ingrid uses Instagram as a way of finding friends and filling the void in her life. She’s grieving the loss of her mother and spends her days mindlessly tapping away through Instagram, her phone is glued to her hand as the all to familiar clicking of the phone is the only sound we hear.
Next on Ingrid’s newsfeed is Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), photographer/social media influencer. Her life is a series of Instagram posts and smug hashtags. Her orchestrated life is praised and loved by her followers who want to know what she’s eating, wearing and reading – everything is the ‘best’ in Taylor’s life.
Ingrid is drawn into Taylor’s life as she sets out to mimic and befriend her by moving to California, by copying her syle and stealing her dog. Ingrid creates a fantasy life, doing whatever it takes to befriend Taylor and to achieve the ultimate #squadgoals. On the surface of it all Ingrid only wants a friend but the lies she tells can’t be hidden by a filtered Insta post as she struggles to keep hold of her perfect LA lifestyle.
Matt Spicer’s award winning script takes centre stage, it permeates through the fiction of social media to reveal the truths behind the posts, like coercing strangers to get on the floor to take pictures of you, or the photogenic avocado on toast which doesn’t taste as good at it looks.
Spicer’s film isn’t only a criticism of social media, he moves past this by showing the loneliness and inauthenticity to Ingrid’s life as well as Taylor’s. This is perfectly portrayed when Taylor quotes her favourite book in an Insta post, we later find out that she’s never read the book.
Surrounding this obsession with social media is Ingrid’s deteriorating mental health which Spicer handles with delicacy. This is also down to the excellent portrayal of Ingrid by Aubrey Plaza who has comic timing down to a T and Elizabeth Olsen brings depth and mockery to Taylor’s ‘perfect’ life.
Ultimately, this is a film about Ingrid’s need for friends and acceptance and although the finale hits you in the face with irony, the fierce humour carries the film through.