"Ingrid Goes West:" You'll Laugh at Ingrid and Then at Yourself
Issue   |   Wed, 09/27/2017 - 00:01
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org
“Ingrid Goes West“ hits close to home as Ingrid’s journey to follow in the footsteps of her Instagram idol tackles issues of our reliance on social media.

Matt Spicer’s film “Ingrid Goes West” opens with emojis and hashtags flashing across the screen, all of the ingredients for a perfect Instagram post. But when a “#perfect” wedding ends with the bride getting pepper-sprayed in the eyes, it becomes clear that this film mocks social media culture and the insincerity it creates.

“Ingrid Goes West” follows down-on-her-luck Ingrid (played by Aubrey Plaza, best known as April on “Parks and Recreation”). After the death of her mother and a stay in a mental hospital, she decides to reinvent her life by following in the footsteps of her favorite Instagram obsession Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) and moving to sunny Los Angeles. After befriending Sloane by stealing and then returning her “lost” dog, hilarity ensues between the mismatched pair and Ingrid’s desperate attempts to impress her new friend.

“Ingrid Goes West” is a truly laugh-out-loud funny movie. While it is hilarious to watch Ingrid carry out her misguided plans — such as photographing everything in Sloane’s shower and medicine cabinet the first time she is invited into her house — the film hits such a chord with its audience because we’re all really laughing at ourselves and our media-obsessed society.

The film explores desires we all have — we all want to be liked, fit in and portray our best selves to others — and amplifies them to a new extreme. Of course, most of us are not stealing dogs to get people to like us, but we can all understand the desires that are fueling Ingrid’s crazy schemes.

The film also provides voices of reason, one of which is Ingrid’s landlord and later boyfriend, Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). Pinto fails to understand Ingrid’s desire to impress Sloane and values trust and sincerity over a lifestyle or an aesthetic. Another is Sloane’s husband, Ezra O’Keefe (Wyatt Russell) who, although married to an “Instagram star,” does not even have a smartphone. Unsurprisingly, he and his wife’s differing opinions on social media lead to frequent clashes in their marriage, unbeknownst to all of her followers commenting “#couplegoals.”

However, “Ingrid Goes West” does not simply provide its audience with the cliché message that people’s lives on social media are not a true reflection of their actual lives. The audience knows that while Ingrid looks like she’s having the time of her life in Los Angeles on Instagram, privately her life is falling apart and her mental health is deteriorating. Sloane’s life is also crumbing, due to her problems with family and finances, but, unlike Ingrid, she never has the confidence to admit how disingenuous she truly is. The movie takes this one step further, stressing how, even with that knowledge, we still long for that perfect Instagram life.

Even after social media has almost destroyed her life, Ingrid still cannot keep herself off it, and it is this bittersweet ending that makes this film nothing like social media itself. While Instagram only shows the rosy side of life, “Ingrid Goes West” unapologetically tells it like it is. Ultimately, that makes the film so relatable and so unsettling. While the last line of the film, “#IamIngrid,” echoes in your head, you’ll realize that, indeed, there is a part of Ingrid inside each of us.

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