Hot Take: It seems like Aubrey Plaza has a way of committing herself to every role she has no matter how stupid or ridiculous and she finally gets a role that’s really worth sinking her teeth into as Ingrid.
Each week I get an e-mail that tells me how many Twitter followers I’ve gained and lost. This week I netted a double digit gain. I remember getting a little excited to read that. That’s about as far as my obsession with social media goes. Ingrid Thorburn, the main character played by Aubrey Plaza in Ingrid Goes West, takes that social media obsession to another level. The unstable Ingrid and the satirical and insightful look at the current state of social interaction via social media makes Ingrid Goes West a home run of a flick and gives summer a quirky boost before it ends.
Ingrid Goes West kicks off with Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) scrolling through pictures on Instagram and liking them incessantly as she sits outside of a wedding she wasn’t invited to of a girl who was the only one to comment when her mom died. Eventually, Ingrid, clad in sweats and showered in tears, bursts into the reception and sprays the bride with mace, upset that she was not invited to the wedding. Ingrid is committed to a mental hospital where she writes letters to Charlotte explaining she’s having difficulties dealing with the death of her mother. Once out, Ingrid goes to a local grocery store and runs into a friend of Charlotte’s who comments on the phone within earshot of Ingrid that Ingrid became obsessed with Charlotte after she liked a comment of Ingrid’s on social media. Upset by hearing the comment, Ingrid gets upset but snaps out of it when Internet celebrity Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) replies to one of Ingrid’s comments on her post. She also discovers that her mother left her $62,000 in her will. Seeing a friendship forming with Sloane (thanks to that one message) and assessing she needs a fresh start, Ingrid loads up a backpack full of $62,000 in cash and moves to California.
The vibe that Plaza brings to the film stands out above all else. Being around her character, you feel both pity and a level of discomfort that makes watching all that more interesting. She’s insecure, manipulative, manic, delusional, desperate and downright crazy. As the story devolves into outlandish craziness, Plaza never loses sight of how her character should be portrayed and delivers what is easily the best performance of her film which surprisingly consists of 20+ films since 2009. The satirical look at our social media obsession and how that can play out in reality is scathing and equal parts scary and comical. While the film has more laughs than expected, some of those laughs are uncomfortable
hahahahahahahas hehehehehehehes hehes ones that you’re really unsure you should be laughing at.
While there’s a number of very good supporting performances (Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell and Billy Magnussen all are worth mentioning), it’s Plaza’s shining moment as the depraved and demented Ingrid who steals the show in a powerfully unsettling performance. Or is it unsettlingly powerful? Either way, Plaza alone is worth the price of admission. The plot’s commentary on the state of social media and the value we put on it is just a bonus and writer/director Matt Spicer should get a hat tip for his work both on paper and behind the camera.
The most telling part of Ingrid Goes West is that it isn’t just a throwaway summer flick. My guess is it’ll seep into your memory banks when you’re reminded of a scene or two from the film. For me, it was soon after when I scrolled through my Twitter mentions and noticed a few likes and comments from people I’ve never met and thought twice about engaging in any sort of response. Films about obsession tend to spectacularly fail or hit a bullseye with few falling in between. Ingrid Goes West is one that nails the bullseye and, thanks to the work of Plaza, delivers one of the better films of the summer. The box office numbers are just ok so Ingrid won’t be hanging around long. #GoSeeIt
“Spoiler Free” Pros
After Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, I’d passed judgment that Plaza was typecast in a certain role that lacked any real depth and she was destined to be a cartoonish character there to score some laughs and say outlandish things. As Ingrid, you get something more from her thanks to her having more of a character to work with and it pays off with a winning performance.
- The Olsen Non-Twin
The younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is establishing herself as an up and coming star and she is great in the role of Taylor Sloane who “ohmygod!” loves everything. She’s Bridget Fonda’s Allison Jones in Single White Female if Allison were obsessed with becoming a social media star and aloof to everything that was happening around her.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- That Opening Short?
What the hell was that? I’m leaning toward worst short ever but trying not to be too dramatic.