As a working social media professional, I cannot emphasize how much “Ingrid Goes West” hit close to home. I’m not an influencer, but I’ve worked with enough of them over the past six years to really see the ins and outs of social media. If anything, I’m glad that this movie reassured me that I still have a healthy relationship with social media – even though it’s been a huge part of my life for so long.
That being said, this movie isn’t just about social media – but the human connection, or false connection it provides. The movie is almost akin to the hit Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” (which is amazing. If you have the opportunity to see it while Ben Platt is still the title character, please do. It’s the best live performance I’ve ever seen in my life.) While the events that take place could not be more different, at the end of the day, both Ingrid and Evan want to connect – and social media leads them to believe that they have. They both feel unique in their loneliness and find a way to lessen it. So they get lost in that. I really appreciate how honestly that was portrayed.
One aspect of this movie that I think was captured so well, that I always try to explain to traditional celebrities that come to influencer driven events for the first time – is the difference between the traditional celebrity fan culture, and the social media influencer fan culture. People typically consume traditional media with other people, and understand that an actor is just playing a character – and isn’t that character in real life. In “Ingrid Goes West,” they do a really good job in showing that social media is consumed individually. Which, in turn, creates a subconscious notion that one is the ONLY person who consumes and appreciates a content creator’s posts.
In the movie, Aubrey Plaza’s character even finds out where her favorite influencer, played by Elizabeth Olsen, lives and goes there. I love that it’s clearly portrayed on screen as an abnormal behavior. I literally just had to take a break from writing this review to turn away a fan from my employer’s house. So to say that that scene hits close to home for me is the understatement of a lifetime. Again, it just makes me glad that something like that DOES affect me in such a disturbing way – because it means that I still don’t consider behavior like this normal. Working in the entertainment industry, I rub shoulders with a lot of high profile people – and I absolutely hate it when Instagram or Facebook suggest that I follow or add what is clearly a profile that a celebrity made, without using their known names, with the intention of not being found.
All the social media stuff aside, because really, I could go on about it forever. This is just a good movie. The cast is great, the music and insert shots drive the movie. It was a fun time. I thought Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen were such a perfect mismatch to have. I think a strong factor in that, is that Olsen grew up in LA and was able to channel so much of that into her character – who is just completely aloof to how insanely self-serving she is. Like, her entire character is just a walking Pinterest board. I also think that Aubrey Plaza finding ways to root Ingrid into the feeling of just wanting to connect – makes her that much more real and relatable.
The real star of the show though, in my eyes, is O’Shea Jackson Jr. I feel like “charming” is such a cop-out adjective in any review (which is funny because I use it all the damn time) but that’s exactly what he is. In a lot of ways, he’s the only sane character in this movie – and his delivery is amazing. If you can find an interview where Aubrey Plaza (who also produced this movie) talks about the process of casting Jackson, I recommend it. It’s a phenomenal story.
Also, A+ for some API representation in this movie in the form of Pom Klementieff. Her role isn’t huge, but I’ll take it. Homegirl is killing it right now.
I think this movie is entirely worth the price of admission. Maybe it’s because I’m a social media nerd who is willing to watch almost anything that tries to honestly portray the psychology behind these platforms, but this was one of my favorite films to come out this year. I’ve also just been waiting for this movie to come out ever since it was announced that Plaza and Olsen would be working together. I think it provides an insightful narrative for anyone who makes or consumes social media content on a regular basis – and will make you question whether or not you have a healthy relationship with these platforms.