Where to draw the line? Films so often use ambiguity and aloofness in the guise of art and intrigue, when in reality it’s just really fucking annoying and we the audience walk out with more questions than answers. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum where they tell us stuff we already know, assuming they’re the ones discovering it for the first time and are now teachers informing the masses, when in fact we’ve been here the whole time and are now wondering where they fuck have they been.
Instagram has been around since 2010. Like most things designed as innocuous and as innocent as a photo-sharing app between friends, over time it’s been manipulated and exploited to sell shit from detox diet teas to sex. But there’s always a balance - for every revenge porn pic upload, there are friends that reconnect. For every #fitspo that triggers an eating disorder relapse, there’s a mother who finds the perfect cake design and recipe for her daughter’s birthday party. But of course behind every immaculately tweaked and filtered image lies a person perfectly curating what he or she uploads: the beautiful sun-kissed couple on the beach when less than 24 hours ago they argued into the night about dirty dishes, finances or a suspicious text. The impeccably plated dinner snap that took hours to create, several attempts to get right and is now cold and drying out under the litany of lamps in an obscure room of the house to get the right shot. Social media is a funny beast. Everything we post is a half-truth, which is of course a whole lie. It’s not real, yet never been realer. We actually go to the Eiffel Tower but because we wanted to or so we could get that #vaycay pic to make everyone at home jealous. The line is blurring so rapidly no one seems to know anymore. And then there are the "likes". Those little red hearts can say so much. They have the ability to make or break a person’s spirit or even their entrepreneurial success. It’s amazing - the validation that comes from a complete stranger tapping their screen twice. If only someone would finally make a movie about this plight.
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza, TV’s 'Parks and Recreation', 'Safety Not Guaranteed') brushes her teeth, eats her food and sits on the couch in front of the TV compulsively “double tapping” her Instagram feed, longing to have the images she so lovingly fawns over day and night. When an Instagram-induced “incident” lands her in a psychiatric facility she emerges refreshed, renewed and with a need to start over. So with a new Instagram handle, some fresh #inspo and a backpack full of cash, she heads west to California in the hopes of making her latest #WCW Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’) her new BFF. With the help of a little light Instagram stalking and her new Batman-obsessed landlord Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr, 'Straight Outta Compton') she quickly indoctrinates herself into Taylor’s life - but can only pretend to be something she’s not for so long before the cracks start to show and her feed of lies goes from private to public.
First time feature writer/director Matt Spicer has proven his talent here with a smart, witty and beautifully put together film.
The impossibly beautiful and talented Elizabeth Olsen partnered with the kooky, quirky, comedic and gorgeous Aubrey Plaza are a match made in heaven. Both ladies embody their characters like a tailor-made glove and light up the screen with ease, grace, awkwardness and vulnerability. First-time feature writer/director Matt Spicer has proven his talent here with a smart, witty and beautifully assembled film. His mission, albeit, leaves a little, not much, but a smidgeon to be desired and while I believe he nailed the casting by about 95%, there were one or two that perhaps were off by like, a millimetre. ‘Ingrid Goes West’ is a wonderful social satire but ironically fails to be self-aware enough to be truly scathing or even shock inducing.
However, ‘Ingrid Goes West’ starts to falter around the third act, leading to a conclusion that I ultimately knew was coming but wished so hard to be wrong. I wanted this movie to be more. I wanted it to say something other than social media is fake yet cyclical. The world has already proven time and time again that we know this and yet don’t care.