Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) has an addiction. She “hearts” and comments on posts for hours a day. She scrolls through Instagram with such intensity that she is almost like a person fiending for cocaine. This is no coincidence. Though not mentioned in the film, research shows social media use stimulates the release of oxytocin and dopamine in the brain, similar to drug use.
So basically Ingrid is like an Instagram crackhead (Instacrack?). One of her social media obsessions led to a restraining order and a stay in a mental institution. After she gets out, Ingrid decides to start a new life in sunny California, but not before she finds a new target: Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Taylor is an effervescent California “taste maker” who claims to be a photographer. However, her “photography” is mostly selfies and meals such as avocado toast that she shares with her many followers. Armed with her brand spanking new Instagram handle @ingridgoeswest, Ingrid makes the move to LA where everyone around her has a hustle and comparing social media follower numbers is a new type of pissing contest.
The marketing of Ingrid Goes West bills the flick as a “comedy-drama.” I found it all a bit depressing, but ultimately engaging, due to Aubrey Plaza’s sympathetic portrayal of this woman with mental health problems in the Internet age. Another strong performance was seen in O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube’s son), who plays Ingrid’s charming, Batman-obsessed landlord. I thought Ingrid Goes West quite thought-provoking, and I did get some laughs and one sincere cry out the movie (I cry at a lot of movies, though).
Can I Take the Kids? Rated R for language, violence and drug use. Teenage girls (and some boys) might enjoy seeing this movie as it speaks to the self-esteem issues that they confront.
Verdict: Good movie, but a bit of a downer. I don’t rate it must see at the movie theater, but it’s certainly stream-worthy.