We’re going to start with a disclaimer here. “Ingrid Goes West” is not a movie for the whole family.
That said, this movie isn’t rated R for excessive nudity, drugs or violence. There is a bit of each of those things, but the movie is more of a psychological thriller than anything else.
“Ingrid Goes West” stars Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid Thorburn, who is euphemistically a very troubled young woman. Thorburn is obsessed with social media, and specifically with Instagram, because it provides a world that is dramatically different from her reality. She is isolated, and she leaves her trash all over her house. But she loves the seemingly easy perfection of the photos and the validation of the likes on Instagram. Following a very poor series of life choices and the loss of her mother, Ingrid decides to move to Los Angeles in order to become friends with her idol, an Insta-celebrity named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). She methodically works to turn herself into the kind of person Taylor would befriend, studying the kinds of things Taylor likes and posts on social media. This strategy works, until it doesn’t, and we get to watch everyone dissolve on screen.
Dan Pinto, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr., is Ingrid’s landlord and by far the most likeable and genuine character in the film. He refuses to compromise on who he is, even after Ingrid begs him to do so, but he also often ends up as collateral damage in the girls’ pursuit of the perfectly photographed life.
“Ingrid Goes West” explores the way we present ourselves, and the people we want to be. Writer and director Matt Spicer dives into the gap between the messes of Ingrid and Taylor’s day to day lives and who they get to be online. He asks us to consider who we pretend to be, how readily we buy into each others lies, and how are we rewarded for these things, with an unsettlingly dark humor.