Ingrid Goes West

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Aubrey Plaza tends to stick to her wheelhouse, but she’s getting better at expanding the limitations that places on her. In her latest film, Ingrid Goes West, she is still dry and aloof, but Ingrid is probably a deeper and darker character than she has played before, give or take her Legion role.

Ingrid is a troubled lass, after crashing the wedding of barely acquaintance and pepper-spraying the bride, she spends a little time in the looney bin (do they actually still have those?). After her release, and after she receives a modest inheritance, she packs up for greener pastures out west (Los Angeles, specifically) because she’s got an envy/crush on an Instagram star (Elizabeth Olsen). Ingrid manipulates her way to being totes BFF’s with Olsen’s Taylor, until Taylor’s bullshit-sensing brother, Nicky (Billy Magnussen) arrives and threatens to expose everything.

Ingrid Goes West goes too far in some cases, it’s a nearly satirical indictment of Instagram culture, and not far enough in others. It’s pleasant enough up front, providing laughs and cringes as Ingrid’s web grows tighter and more expansive, but the ending left me cold and I’m not sure what denouement I was looking for but that wasn’t it.

Magnussen and Olsen are both so perfect in their roles. They are insufferable characters that are expertly written. I avoid people like that in real life, and seeing them on screen didn’t make spending time with them any easier. Plaza was great, but the screenplay sells her short, robbing her character of any dimensionality or explanation on why she’s crazypants and just expecting a dead mom to do the heavy lifting.

There are some fun parts to the movie, but when you can’t really understand the main character’s motivation everything that follows feels like a forced plot point (which it especially is in the case of a missing phone, I can’t buy that Ingrid would let her phone out of her grasp long enough to sigh, much less for someone else to nab it).

The thesis at the core of Ingrid is solid-social media is false advertising and we’ve created an entire culture that buys into it, but that’s a point it makes in the opening moments and really doesn’t have anything deeper to say beyond that.

My Grade – C-

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