Aubrey Plaza stars in a stalker drama that falls short of being memorable
Ingrid Goes West is a film that left me feeling conflicted. The plot was promising, the cast is solid and the visual style sold to me by the poster seemed to strike a chord with me.
But, unfortunately, as we’ve come to expect from most films in the past few years, the overall product falls flat for multiple reasons including (but far from being limited to) sub-par continuity and a painfully bland soundtrack.
The promising plot revolves around Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), an American girl in her early twenties who has severe mental issues, mainly, being a psychopath. An Instagram feed and the phrase “Is this real? #nofilter” and a handful of other similar photos and captions are narrated to us in a cringe-worthy opener. It’s then revealed to be what Ingrid is doing in her car outside a wedding.
The cringe turned to laughter when our protagonist runs onto the dancefloor and pepper-sprays the bride while screaming “Thanks for inviting me, you f*cking c*nt!”
Ingrid’s obsession with the blogger lifestyle leads her to move to Los Angeles where she comes across Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), a textbook millennial blogger girl. She proceeds to stalk Taylor in an ever increasingly worrying manner until they become friends. The main character that I found the most surprising and charming was the Batman-obsessed landlord/boyfriend, Dan Pinto, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. — also known as Ice Cube’s son.
His performance was genuinely hilarious; let’s hope he makes it in the industry as there’s clearly potential for progress.
To avoid spoilers, let’s move on to the technical aspects of the movie.
The plot is solid and makes for a fine hour and a half worth of entertainment accompanied by the decent cast but there are multiple flaws throughout. Firstly, the soundtrack is a HUGE failure. It conveys a light, almost pleasant sensation with its primary composition of string instruments, and it does not fit with the troubling imagery at all.
Something dark, maybe some synths, maybe a single piano tinkling in a sinister manner à la John Carpenter would have improved the feeling by leaps and bounds. The dreadful shot continuity is extremely prominent when characters are talking to each other; it doesn’t feel like they’re conversing, more like they’re reading their lines to each other while moving all over the place between consecutive shots. Some mistakes in film-making are forgivable — these aren’t.
It seems as most of the film was shot on a wide angle lens with a slightly shallow depth of field that leads to distortion and blur at the edge of the frame, a feature that is very noticeable in indoor shots and in close-ups of phones, blurring the keyboard or the sides of the screen at times.
The pieces to the puzzle were laid out in front of the director, Matt Spicer, and his crew but they didn’t follow the instructions and brought in other ill-fitting pieces that simply don’t work.
Is Ingrid Goes West worth your time? Yes, it’s an entertaining film that will certainly make you laugh and reflect on those goddamn millennials.
Will it go down as a memorable cinematographic piece? Unfortunately, not in my books. It falls short of being decent, leaving the viewer with a sense of dissatisfaction.