Ingrid Goes West Movie Review
It’s not stalking if it’s social media. Right? Aubrey Plaza sizzles in Ingrid Goes West, in which she plays a lonely, mentally disturbed young woman who befriends another young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) who she discovers on Instagram. The movie sizzles for a while, and then fizzles.
Plaza, known for her deadpan delivery and tendency to play sociopathic-esque characters, has been building toward this performance ever since she broke onto the screen in Parks and Recreation. She begins the movie while watching tearfully on Instagram the photos of a “friend” at her wedding—a wedding that Ingrid was not invited to. Her solution: she shows up at the wedding anyway, tears and makeup painted like rivers on her tear-drenched face, and sprays some kind of that’s-not-water liquid in the bride’s face.
That’s our introduction to Ingrid, and what an introduction it is. It’s dark, it establishes that Ingrid is unhinged, and it’s sort of funny in a twisted, deliciously deranged way.
That’s how Ingrid Goes West was marketed, too—Ingrid is disturbed, she’s heading to Los-mother-fucking-Angeles, and shit is going down.
That’s not how Ingrid Goes West plays out, however.
Plaza delivers what will likely be one of the best performances of the year—though don’t expect to see her name in award circles come December—portraying an emotionally fragile and mentally unstable young woman obsessed with today’s social feed obsession. She’s a young woman who looks at the world around her—or at least the world as portrayed through beautiful Instagram photos of beautiful people doing beautiful things—and wants to be at the top of the world, no matter what.
As a character study, Ingrid Goes West works to the very end. As the dark, twisted comedy both the marketing and screenplay hint at, the movie builds and builds and builds until it ultimately fizzles, its culmination a severe “is that it?” The movie goes where Ingrid-in-real-life would go, but not where the Ingrid of this story needed to go.
Ingrid Goes West is an entertaining movie that features a pivotal performance by Aubrey Plaza, but it isn’t the darkly funny movie you’ll expect. It’s funny at times, dark in others, but director and co-writer Matt Spicer doesn’t mash, churn, and spin those elements together in a way that allows the climax to explode in gloriously deranged satisfaction.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.