The perils of oversharing on social media are played for (sporadic) laughs in Ingrid Goes West, a comedy that initially has you hitting the like button before becoming increasingly hard to stay friends with.
The central character, Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is an unhinged 20-something who, at film’s beginning, is even more distraught than usual because she hasn’t been invited to the wedding of a former friend. She’s sitting at home stewing over all the photos being posted online by all the popular people having a good time at the reception.
After disgracing herself by crashing the party and assaulting the bride, Ingrid knows she has to move on and find new friends. She fixates on a very cool, beautiful woman called Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) who seems to be living a dream life in L.A. Ingrid starts cyber-stalking Taylor, who’s constantly posting pics on Instagram of all her favourite cafes and shops.
When Ingrid leaves a comment on one of Taylor’s pics and Taylor actually replies, this is all the encouragement Ingrid needs to pack up her belongings and with the money left by her deceased mother, move to L.A. where she can start stalking for real.
After stealing Taylor’s much photographed dog, and then masquerading as the good samaritan who finds and returns the dog, Ingrid becomes fast friends with Taylor and her artist boyfriend Ezra (Wyatt Russell). Gobbling up as much information as she can on all the things that Taylor loves, she tries to pass herself off as a kindred spirit, but how long can she keep up the charade?
While acting like a lovable new best friend to Taylor and Ezra, Ingrid shamelessly uses her new landlord, young Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr), who clearly is besotted with her.
For the first half of the film there are plenty of laughs and pointed observations on people’s need for social media recognition and constant desire to publish and hashtag their day to day existence.
Slowly though we get ground down by just how shallow and unpleasant these people are, with the exception of the exploited Dan, who conversely is too good to be true. He gets used and abused mercilessly and keeps coming back for more.
On top of that, the improbabilities in the story mount up to the point where you’re just not caring about or believing what you’re seeing.
The result is likely to have you leaving the cinema feeling like you’ve seen a bit of innocuous fun, but it’s a feeling not likely to survive much reflection on the film’s numerous shortcomings.
Ingrid Goes West currently in general release.
Richard Leathem @dickiegee