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BFI London Film Festival 2017 Review: Ingrid Goes West

"100 Minutes of Someone With Mental Health Problems Not Getting Any Help"
Ingrid Goes West is a dreadfully dull and pointless movie - a prime example of how to waste a talented cast while pretending you have some kind of meaningful social commentary. Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is a mentally unstable young woman prone to obsessing over the lives of complete strangers and believing herself to be their close friend. When she discovers social media influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), Ingrid decides to move to LA and try and befriend her. What starts out as a perfectly normal stalker-aggressively-infiltrates-your-private-life friendship between the two gradually turns into something very disturbing and dangerous - because it turns out that Ingrid, the mentally unstable person, is mentally unstable. Truly a shocking turn. Plaza turns in a solid performance here, delivering the right blend of charm and desperate awkwardness. However, the problem with Ingrid as a character is that you learn everything you need to know about her in the first five minutes. This is someone who at the beginning of the movie crashes a woman's wedding and maces her in the face for not being invited - said woman only ever commented on one of Ingrid's social media posts, but that was enough for Ingrid to develop an unhealthy one-sided friendship. This is followed up by a brief stay at a mental hospital. Ingrid is someone who clearly needs help, but Ingrid Goes West isn't interested in seeing her work through her issues or exploring the possible cause. No, it's instead content with showing us Ingrid's downward spiral in its entirety and trying to play it for laughs. Isn't it funny when Ingrid kidnaps Taylor and her husband Ezra's (Wyatt Russell) dog only to pretend to find it so that the two will befriend her? Or how about when she abuses the trust of her landlord Dan (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) by damaging his truck and not bringing it back for when he needs it? Even if you try and think of Ingrid Goes West as a black comedy, a lot of what happens is not remotely funny, it's just disturbing and sad. This sense of gloom isn't helped by the fact that most of the characters are vapid, insufferable assholes. Aspiring screenwriter and Batman fanboy Dan is an exception - he's charming, sweet and whenever anything actually happens in Ingrid Goes West, it usually involves him. The movie seems to be under the impression it's offering some kind of relevant social commentary or insight, but what exactly would that be? That social media can enable the self-destructive behavior of certain mentally unstable individuals? That social media influencers adopt fake personas? There are some interesting ideas here, but Ingrid Goes West only ever scratches their surface. It implies it's much more insightful than it actually is, a point driven home by an insulting ending which offers no closure whatsoever. Despite being just under a 100-minutes, this movie is an absolute drag. Blade Runner 2049 in its entirety didn't feel as long to watch as Ingrid Goes West did. Incidentally, Blade Runner 2049 was also more cheerful. Bottom line, Ingrid Goes West is an exercise in utter pointlessness. If you're looking for a slow, miserable viewing experience though, it will be right up your alley.
  • Dan
  • Good performances
  • Dull, miserable viewing experience
  • Nowhere near as insightful and relevant as it seems to think it is


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