When I decided to leave Los Angeles and move back to home to DC two years ago, a former coworker reached out to me via Facebook messenger. She said she was shocked to learn that I was leaving the west coast. It seemed like I had found the “perfect life” out there. Why would I ever give up sunny SoCal and return to the DC grind? Well, that’s kind of the dirty secret of social media isn’t it? When your network on the other side of the country is only exposed to the utmost peaks of your exciting adventure, it’s easy to just assume that’s what someone is experiencing 24/7. But of course it’s not all sunsets, surfing, and strolls on the WB lot. No matter how much someone flaunts bliss via their phone, they’re likely dealing with just as much personal bullshit as you are, possibly more.
That’s basically the thesis statement of the terrific dark comedy, Ingrid Goes West. It’s a Single White Female in the age of social media. Aubrey Plaza plays an instagram-addicted loner who yearns for the lavish lifestyles that she scrolls through on her phone all day, every day. After coming across the particularly glorious account of a Venice Beach based influencer named Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), Plaza uproots her life to chase the L.A. dream that Taylor is pushing. Sidenote: For those unaware (hi Mom), a “social media influencer” is someone who has such a large following that companies will pay them handsomely to casually promote certain products within their everyday lives. It’s basically supplanted club appearances as the #1 income avenue for D-list reality stars.
Ingrid Goes West paints a bleak picture for our narcissistic, image obsessed culture and yet I found it to be a really enjoyable and funny movie! I always like L.A. stories and especially those that poke fun at certain stereotypes inherent within the locale (i.e. You’re the Worst, Casual, BoJack Horseman). This does a great job at satirizing the relatively recent influencer movement and is filled out by an excellently talented cast of second generation stars. In addition to Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr (son of Ice Cube) and Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) also come from famous families. While they certainly started out more connected than others, they’re just as magnetic as their more famous kin. Grade: A-