An unstable woman seeks out the perfect life in "Ingrid Goes West," a dark satire of social-media culture that's not as incisive as it wants to be.
Aubrey Plaza stars as Ingrid, who obsesses over the Instagram posts of a high-school classmate's wedding a wedding to which she was not invited, and crashes with horrible effect. A short stint in the mental hospital later, Ingrid is back home and finds a new obsession: Social-media star Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), who constantly posts on Instagram about her picture-perfect life with her artist husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell) in Venice, Calif.
Ingrid cashes out the inheritance of her just-deceased mom and moves to Venice, renting an apartment from Dan (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), a would-be screenwriter with a Batman fixation. Ingrid goes to the places Taylor pictures in her posts, and soon enough spots her at a boutique.
Ingrid, using a nasty trick I won't disclose her, maneuvers her way into Taylor's life, even going on a girls' only road trip to Taylor's second home at Joshua Tree. But the arrival of Taylor's out-of-control brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) threatens to upend Ingrid's dream of being Taylor's BFF.
Plaza takes no prisoners in her performance, which goes to the edge and then some. The other standouts in the cast are Olsen, who evokes Martha Stewart as the ultimate Mean Girl, and Jackson, who is both funny and touching as the movie's one likable character.
Director Matt Spicer, who co-wrote with David Branson Smith, make some sly commentary on social-media culture, particularly in the ways Taylor is creating a facade every bit as phony as Ingrid's. But the deep dive into Ingrid's psychotic behavior is more disturbing than funny.
– Sean P. Means
"Ingrid Goes West" screens again at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival at the following time and venue:
• Friday, Jan. 27, 11:30 a.m., The MARC, Park City.