I'm going to tell you why anyone who uses social media should watch Ingrid Goes West. If I got to choose a movie that deserves an Oscar nomination, it would be this one. Such fantastic performances by by Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen. Writers David Branson Smith and Matt Spicer definitely were snubbed of a Screenplay nod. Ingrid Goes West is one of those films that’s secretly horrific disguised as a comedy. And here’s why.
Ingrid Goes West is a film inspired by social media, and in particular, Instagram. It also dives into the culture of obsession cultivated by our smartphones and how the active use of social media can consume us on a daily basis. We all can agree that social media is a great way to stay connected with the world but every now and then we hear or read about its ugly side and how it's used as a weapon to harm others. In light of this, the dark comedic satire in Ingrid Goes West becomes a study on what it's like to be a modern-day stalker when our obsessive culture allows someone who is prone to extreme obsession to thrive. So here are all the reasons why anyone who uses social media should watch Ingrid Goes West.
Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is a loner. She has no one in her life, and her mother is dead. Ingrid's phone is the only source of connection she has with the world. Her relationship with her phone is also the problem. With everything accessible with a click of her fingers, Ingrid feels she can get what she wants, no matter the consequences. It makes her obsessive, making her vulnerable and dangerous at the same time. This is one of the primary reasons why anyone who uses social media should watch Ingrid Goes West.
Being out of touch with society makes her fragile, and seeing all of the positive clichés with people and society makes her crave it. The combination makes her blindly act upon her desire to be liked and to be friends with those people who have a huge social media cachet regardless of whether anyone gets hurts in the process.
One interesting way the film immediate focuses on characterizing Ingrid is in the absence of sound. Rather than soundtrack her deep dives into social media, all we see is her in pensive state as she stares at her phone. When we are watching her alone, it's quiet and unnervingly still. However, when she finds someone to admire on social media, we begin to hear voices and imagined conversation, which ignites Ingrid with a smile as her delusions begin to take root.
After being released from a mental health clinic from her previous stalker incident (presumably), Ingrid quickly begins searching for someone else to follow. She begins to follow new people on Instagram and pretends to know them.
She immediately becomes infatuated with a Californian Instagram celebrity named Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen). After exchanging a few words with her new target, Ingrid finds herself traveling across the country to pursue her. Ingrid immediately follows Taylor’s patterns through her posts. She finds her favorite brunch café, then ultimately, her private home in the suburbs. After kidnapping Taylor’s dog, and pretending to have rescued him, Ingrid successfully infiltrates Taylor’s life.
Ingrid is the embodiment of the moral questions we have about social media today playing out for our amusement, but also as a contemplative warning about our own behaviors. The screen-focused culture we have lived with in the modern age has made us anti-social, yet it thrives because we want to connect with people. Is Ingrid right to deceive Taylor? Or is it morally wrong, regardless of how well we know Ingrid?
Social media teases us on how easy information can be shared, and Ingrid sees every bit of it as something good for her. And it's easy to judge her for her stalking, but it's her way of fighting her mental instability. The film wants us to see how far her deception of Taylor takes her.
Taylor is very much like Ingrid. While Ingrid is obsessive, Taylor is a narcissist. She is the epitome of living life to the fullest and wanting you to know it. She even uses "hashtag blessed" to an annoying level. Everything she posts is elegant, but her perfect image is medley of her own husband Ezra's (Wyatt Russell) personal interests. She merely warps it to make it her own.
Being with Taylor in person, Ingrid discovers that she is just like her. The film dives deep into questions about character change based on social media. The film wants us to think Ingrid, Taylor, and their new group of friends were once decent human beings. But with social media and the ability to hide flaws, they are now perfect human beings.
Taylor and her friends use social media as a food source to feed their hunger to hide their ugly side. And with that, Ingrid's decision to infiltrate Taylor's life is the film's way of showing how social media invites obsession. Taylor cares for her own success and climbing up the social ladder. She's willing to steal ideologies from her peers and use it for self-gain. Ingrid, on the other hand, sees Taylor's actions, and sets herself to follow in her footsteps.
Even after the intense climax of the film, which includes being blackmailed by Taylor's brother, who finds out Ingrid's true motives and threatens to tell his sister, and also being sidelined by Taylor, Ingrid feels compelled to stay connected to her phone. All those encouraging words from her followers give her a smile, as she becomes a little more like Taylor. Her love interest, Dan, is great example of how hungry she is to be Insta-famous to the point she would throw away a chance at a stable and loving relationship. What she desires most is to be like Taylor, regardless of what has happened, and she instantly forgets about him because strangers are proud of what she's done.
Ingrid Goes West is a dark comedy, yet frustrating to watch. The movie doesn't develop Ingrid in any positive way, but it tells an honest story. The film successfully shows us how people invest in hiding their true nature while trying to invite honest interactions and relationships into their lives. Ingrid is used as an example of how bad that idea is. We can't expect to be admired when our intentions toward others are hostile. Taylor didn't expect Ingrid's deception, but it's part of the culture we live in now. What Ingrid did is a true possibility and it's our duty to make sure we don't end up like her.
Want a teaser? Check out this trailer for the film.
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