‘Ingrid Goes West’ shows us how not to social distance

March 3, 2020

Will a worldwide quarantine make us go crazy enough to stare at homebound celebrities in front of their cameras? Maybe not for all of us, but that is the case for some. No, the best thing to do is sit in our homes and watch movies about these people who go nuts for insta-celebrities and over-the-top Cali-glamour.

Such is “Ingrid Goes West,” a beautiful mess of a movie that makes you go wild with cringe in one moment and hunker down in sympathy the next. Aubrey Plaza plays Ingrid Thorburn, a young woman dealing with the loss of her mother and the loss of any semblance of friendship, which she seeks through a tunnel-vision social media lens.

But she’s not who she makes herself out to be. Fraught with mental issues, Ingrid’s quest for amicable gratification leads to an ongoing obsession, and her latest infatuation leads her west to California (with her large inheritance) to find Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), a bohemian Instagram star who responds to a simple comment Ingrid leaves on her page. While Ingrid finds success in befriending Taylor, through stalking and a weak facade, we see her fall down a deep spiral as her lies begin to fall apart and Taylor begins to show her plastic-ness, à la “Mean Girls.”

This satire does justice to the world of online fashion and unattainable beauty. And it’s because of these two sides—the obsession with being famous and knowing someone famous—that “Ingrid Goes West” is so realistic. Plaza, known for her deadpan style of acting, captures the mentally unstable archetype gracefully as opposed to Olsen’s chic character.

On the screen, Taylor can show the most beautiful parts of her present lifestyle: her man-bunned husband, her coked-out-yet-sexy brother, her connections with other influencers or her home-away-from-home in Joshua Tree. Ingrid doesn’t have much to show, so living a lavish California dream through those who do is her solution.

Perhaps a warning for us youths? “Ingrid” truly makes you question the effect that social media, like Instagram, has on friendship. Reality is different from how it appears on Instagram, except for those people whose lives revolve around the image platform. Or so says “Ingrid.”

Well, we may not be able to get up and go hang out with our friends or go out to California in search of celebrities (yet), but we can still admire from afar. With caution, of course. So, while we’re all doing our best to practice social distancing, let’s remember not to get carried away with longing for the Cali sunshine and instead find contentedness in our own quarantine corners.