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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
There's a popular website devoted entirely to the "downfalls" of Instagram celebrities, those camera-ready people (mostly women) who transform their lives into a “brand”. Every so often, one of these celebs "falls." The veil lifts, revealing the flawed human underneath. Schadenfreude is ugly but inevitable. "Ingrid Goes West," the new black comedy directed by Matt Spicer, starring Aubrey Plaza, is so insightful about this sub-culture, about its appeal but also about the traps of believing so fully in what is fictional.
When we first meet Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), she is in the process of crashing a wedding and spraying Mace in the bride's face as retaliation for not being invited. A little bit later we learn that the two women weren't even friends. Ingrid was just obsessed with this woman's Instagram feed, and felt they had a personal connection. A short time in a psych ward follows. Upon Ingrid's release, she falls back into the old pattern. Life is not worth living without an object of desire. A woman's magazine profiles an Instagram celeb named "Taylor Sloane," (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ingrid leaps upon the new obsession with the savvy of a professional stalker and using the money she inherited from her recently deceased mother, moves to California to seek out her new best friend.
Ingrid sets herself up in Taylor's neighbourhood and, because Taylor posts her whole life on Instagram, Ingrid knows the cafes and stores she frequents. Finally, she kidnaps Taylor's famous dog so that she can then "return" it in person. Taylor and her husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell) are so grateful they invite Ingrid to stay for dinner. While you may know where all of this is going, "Ingrid Goes West" doesn't take the well-trodden path.
The film lampoons stuff that didn't even exist 10 years ago but has now become such a part of our everyday lives that no one takes a second to consider the potential negative effects. If everything is public, then where is the Self? Is turning yourself into a "brand" really a good idea? If you don't take a picture of it and - crucially - share it with the world, did it really happen?