Ingrid Goes West
Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West is a good looking film with an appealing cast — and some glaring narrative issues.
Fresh off a crushing end to a friendship, Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) becomes infatuated with internet/lifestyle — read: false — celebrity Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), cashes her recently deceased mother’s insurance check and follows the titular direction to Venice Beach.
So begins a journey with almost exclusively despicable people where the only appealing option is to root for Ingrid to realize her dreams, over which looms the inevitable unmasking of her as a fraud.
Initially a humorous, biting critique of social network obsessives, the film offers temporary charms as Ingrid worms her way into the lives of Taylor and her pretend artist husband Ezra O’Keefe (Wyatt Russell), both of whom understandably take their new friend at her word.
Ingrid Goes West then reaches its zenith when the two women bond over a singalong to a certain late ‘90s R&B jam that will have anyone familiar with its former ubiquity rolling with laughter.
But with the addition of Taylor’s grating brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen, The Big Short), the story begins its downward descent and never recovers, largely due to the glaring plot hole that it’s unclear what makes Ingrid tick.
There’s basically nothing in Plaza’s performance nor the script by Spicer and David Branson Smith to justify her actions, thereby rendering the twists of her decision-making unpleasant to witness. She’s a pill because she’s a pill, and that’s simply not good enough to carry a film when Ingrid’s existence suddenly turns miserable.
Still, it’s not all godawful. As Ingrid’s Batman-loving, romantically interested landlord Dan Pinto, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) proves that he can do more than play a younger version of his dad and is the lone exception in the bucket of deplorables.
Whenever he appears, good times are practically guaranteed, though his upbeat personality is sadly not contagious.
Grade: C-plus. Rated R. Now playing at Carolina Cinemark and Grail Moviehouse