I am at my third Sundance Film Festival. These are my reviews. Follow me on Twitter @bayerjeff.
Ingrid Goes West
Plot (courtesy of Sundance):
U.S.A., 2016, 97 min., color
A young woman becomes obsessed with an Instagram “influencer” and moves to Los Angeles to try and befriend her in real life.
DIRECTOR: Matt Spicer
SCREENWRITERS: Matt Spicer, David Branson Smith
PRINCIPAL CAST: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen
Review: The films about being obsessed with social media won’t stop. They will keep getting liked, shared and redone. Thankfully, a quality filmmaker, screenwriter and cast will always be able to shine a proper light on the subject and that is exactly what Ingrid Goes West is able to pull off.
Ingrid (Plaza) has just lost her mom and attaches herself on Instagram to anyone who will give her a hint of reason. That leads her to Los Angeles and clinging to Taylor who leads the perfect online life. It’s easy to see where we are eventually heading with stalking, but the film doesn’t feel weighted down by inevitably, instead it keeps finding wonderful commentary on our society through these well thought out characters (instead of big speeches on the compulsion of an online life).
Plaza is perfect as the Single White Female in the making. More importantly, we don’t ever get too much beyond the surface of Taylor, which is the point. She is not nearly as obsessive as Ingrid, but it feels like they are dealing with the same problem of living an authentic life, or at least having the perception of one. Ezra (Russell) is the LA artist married to Taylor. He sees the flaws of where his life with Taylor is leading, but grabs a bottle, drinks, and continues to go along for the ride. Stealing the show is Jackson as Dan, who continues to prove he’s an actor who will be around for a long time, and not because Ice Cube is his dad. Dan is a landlord/screenwriter with his own infatuation, which is Batman. He is the most present person in the film, but still distances himself from reality. There are many toss away lines from Jackson that become the funniest moments of the film.
Any sort of stalker film has the eventual problem of the “fall from grace” moment, but Ingrid Goes West deals with it quite well. Taylor’s brother Nicky shows up and escalates the crazy. The ending gets a little messy when you start to add up Ingrid’s money situation, if police should be involved, or how this all could work out, but I was truly satisfied when walking away from this film.
If you have thought, rethought, typed, deleted, then finally posted something only to wait for the approval of a “like” and felt true joy from that, then Ingrid Goes West is a movie you should sit with for an hour and a half.