Sunday, August 27, 2017

Movie Review: "Ingrid Goes West" (2017)

Director: Matt Spicer
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

A woman obsessed with an Instagram celebrity moves to Venice Beach, CA in an attempt to befriend this person and become part of her life.

The modern internet age is one where anyone with the right angle and a dope filter can become a quasi-celebrity by allowing strangers to follow part of their life online. Writer David Branson Smith and co-writer/director Matt Spicer offer an insightful look into this lifestyle with their new movie "Ingrid Goes West," a satirical dark comedy examining how internet stalking can lead to obsession in the today's world. The film stars Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid Thorburn, a lonely, somewhat mentally disturbed woman who becomes obsessed with specific people she follows online. Her latest obsession is Taylor Sloane, played by Elizabeth Olsen, who is an amateur lifestyle guru who makes money posting things on Instagram. Ingrid moves to Venice Beach where Taylor lives and starts to track her down in the hopes of becoming her real life friend.

Like most dark comedies, "Ingrid Goes West" won't be for everyone. Matt Spicer has the difficult task of making a stalker relatable, and hell, even likable enough so the audience can empathize with her plight. Aubrey Plaza is probably the best casting choice we can think of for a part like this. She manages to be both abrasive and charming in her oddness. She is a character we have sympathy for, and we can understand her desire for friendship, especially after the recent tragedy she has faced. We think Plaza is fantastic in this role as she is able to bring about a lot of laughs with her certain awkward and uncomfortable brand of humor. Elizabeth Olsen is also wonderful in her own right, playing a modern day self-absorbed semi-internet celebrity who is more concerned with how she appears to be than who and what she actually is. Taylor may be the victim of this stalking, but she is still not a genuinely good person deep down. No matter how nice she pretends to be, Taylor is an uber-fake, superficial individual who uses others for her own personal and professional gain. We also must mention O'Shea Jackson Jr., who plays the Batman-obsessed, aspiring screenwriter Dan Pinto. Dan is also Ingrid's landlord, and he is the only one who can show her what true friendship is, even though she can't see it and uses him every chance she gets. O'Shea Jackson Jr. offers another great performance, one that is a little less serious than his part in "Straight Outta Compton."

The humor in "Ingrid Goes West" is brutal honesty. The ironic tragedy of our internet and reality entertainment-obsessed culture allows the perfect canvas for the film to be successful. We live vicariously through the lives of others and we are attached to our phones so often that we forget how to be present in our own lives and have our own adventures. Some people in our society are constantly chasing a dream that often doesn't exist in reality. What people think is real is only a front put up to exploit others their own personal gain. It's all about numbers and followers now, not about genuine interactions and friendship. We think Spicer and Smith have managed to capture that beautifully and tragically, telling an engaging story in their own twisted way. Plaza and Olsen bring these characters to life perfectly, and the movie never feels long and doesn't drag in terms of its pacing. We also love the ending, which is dark, honest, and as equally depressing as the rest of the movie.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~89%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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