Ingrid Goes West review: Single white troll seeks new VBF

No need to condemn social media ‘influencers’ – this film will do the hating for you

Paper chase: Aubrey Plaza as the titular stalker in Ingrid Goes West

Film Title: Ingrid Goes West

Director: Matt Spicer

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 97 min

Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 05:00

   

When you view social media culture from the lofty heights of an older generation, it’s probably best not to seem too condemnatory. Just remember what your own parents thought of that awful rock noise.

Those in this position can relax. Young Matt Spicer is here to do the hating for you. Part King of Comedy, part Single White Female, Ingrid Goes West gleefully despises online fame and the hideous cult of the “influencer”. This comedy needed to be made. It has its flaws, but it’s better than we had a right to expect.

The reliably focused Aubrey Plaza – her famous deadpan here used to sinister effect – plays the titular Pennsylvanian maniac. After being incarcerated following a dangerous outburst, she becomes obsessed with a Californian Instagram influencer named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Inevitably, everything a stalker needs to know about such a person is online. Making use of a handy bequest, Ingrid travels to California, rents an apartment in Taylor’s neighbourhood, copies her haircut and kidnaps her dog. The return of the animal triggers an imbalanced friendship.

Lack of specificity

One could complain that the script makes no attempt to further analyse Ingrid. There is little else to her but that obsession. But the lack of specificity allows her character greater scope as a satirical instrument. She is as many of us now are, but just a lot more so.

The picture’s dissection of the influencer lifestyle is delightfully merciless. Olsen relishes the role of a woman whose powerful charm can swivel with sickening speed when the latest food guru looms over a leeward shoulder. The script by Spicer and David Branson Smith has a firm grasp on the high- and middle-brow culture these people invariably pretend to like. The dog is called Rothko. Sloane’s favourite novel is Norman Mailer’s The Deer Park. She also claims to admire Joan Didion. Nobody here is likely to recommend George Eliot or Mrs Gaskell.

Few moments in the year’s cinema have been more invigoratingly transgressive than that in which, eventually impoverished by her obsession, Ingrid literally wipes her bottom with Didion’s The White Album. No criticism is intended of that fine author. This is what the awful modern world has brought us to.