I just left the theater after watching Ingrid Goes West and I'm crying. This movie affected me in ways I'm not fully comfortable admitting to and I doubt that I'll be able to accurately express.
Ingrid is a troubled girl whose mother has recently passed away. She finds herself obsessed with another young woman from following her on Instagram. When Charlotte gets married, Ingrid attacks her on her wedding day and ends up in a mental institution. After "graduating" her program, she goes back to her old life where she is still alone and depressed. Ingrid happens upon an article about an Instagram "It" girl named Taylor and quickly becomes obsessed. Ingrid moves to California and begins systematically stalking Taylor, eventually ingratiating herself into Taylor's life little by little until the inevitable discovery of her obsession.
I wanted to see this movie because of Aubrey Plaza. Plaza is one of those actors who gives everything to the roles that she plays. Every nuance of Ingrid's obsession with Taylor is played out on Plaza's face. Her eyes suck you into her intense portrayal. From moment one to until the very end when she is delivering her self-realization monologue backlit by candles you are drawn to Plaza and subsequently Ingrid. The awkwardness that Plaza radiates so naturally was a perfect fit for this character I wouldn't be surprised if you were to tell me that the role was written for her.
Underscoring the entire film is a commentary on the dangers of social media obsession. It shows a more dangerous side of the need for validation that so many feel. Getting posts on social media noticed or liked has become big business and for many it helps them feel cared for even when they are alone in the world. The idea that our online persona has to be well liked is a new-ish concept of the last five years or so. I'm old enough to remember life without the internet and social media. It's been fascinating to watch it grow over the years into the juggernaut that it currently is. Even this blog's existence is tied into the idea that people will want to hear what others have to say.
The movie was both sad and lovely. Funny and off kilter. It makes you want a deeper connection with those around you. It points out the loneliness of the world while trying to include you in it. It reminds you that there are people around who do care about you, if only you'll give them the chance to do so.
I can't recommend this movie enough.