This is a strange one for me. You know, with a few exceptions, I’m able to relate to most main characters, or at least the character that you’re supposed to relate to, and in this film the main character of Ingrid is a stalker, semi-psychopathic person who is obsessed with social media and getting the likes. Hmm, that’s about the farthest thing from me that I can think of. I’d like to think I’m nothing close to being considered a stalker, and I hope to God I’m not a semi-psychopath, and while I do have a presence on social media, I don’t rely on other people noticing it for me to feel good. While I’m not able to directly relate to Ingrid as a character, I was able to relate to her plight, which is really what the film is all about, which is for her to get to a place in her life where she’s not a loser and where she is happy.
So I kind of alluded to who Ingrid is as a character, and the story starts with a low-point for her, where she attacks her friend at her wedding because she didn’t invite her. Well, except she’s more of an acquaintance than a friend, as we later learn, and she really just followed her instagram obsessively. Fresh out of rehab, Ingrid’s newest insta-crush, if you will, is Taylor, a west-coaster who has a massive following and magazine articles being written about her. Due to inheritance money, Ingrid journeys to Venice Beach to befriend Taylor, prompting the hashtag ingridgoeswest, and thus the title. When she arrives, though, she befriends her landlord Dan, and goes in a little too close for comfort with Taylor, and the results at first show progress for Ingrid as a character, but after disaster strikes with the presence of Taylor’s brother, it’s all downhill from there as things turn dangerous.
Now first of all, I have to say that the film’s biggest strengths are its message and it’s supporting performances. Nothing against the leads, played by Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, but O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Dan and Billy Magnussen as Taylor’s brother Nicky who steal the show. Especially for me with Jackson, Jr., because of his love for Batman, and in particular Batman Forever (1995), which, sure, is not by any means the best Batman movie, but one that is kind of hated beyond reason. Anyways, I also really liked Magnussen, who goes over-the-top with the partying brother, but he made it work, and at one point he has a confrontation with Ingrid that really shows this guy is going places as an actor. O’Shea is already here because of this and his winning performance in Straight outta Compton (2015), so these guys are here to play. So with the message, if you read my reviews regularly, you’ll know my most despised film of the year so far is The Circle, which straight up sucked and really showed a horrible message to teenage and tween viewers. While this does have the R rating, which means maybe some of the youngsters won’t see this one for a while, I was much more receptive with this film because it’s more of a caution-tale about social media. It shows that sure, it’s a wonderful feeling in the world we’re living today to see others appreciate you and follow you through social media, but it can also lead to it being an easier task for someone who’s not so stable to really get too close to you and potentially hurt you, physically or otherwise. I don’t want to get into a whole rant that berates or defends social media, but I feel with many millennials out there, they only see the world and social media with the positives, and any negative Nancy’s out there are anti-social bugs who should be squashed. That was kind of the message of The Circle, but I feel that as long as you don’t let instagram or twitter control your life and you’re not stuck on your phone or laptop all day, you can be a normal, average, everyday person and you don’t need tens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people to solidify that anything you think is cool is worth sharing. Sometimes it’s nice to just keep things to yourself.
So now that I’ve been totally side-tracked, there are a few problems I had with the film. First off, the film is pretty slow to start. Obviously we have to set up Ingrid a bit, but it just felt that even for an hour-and-a-half film like this, it felt padded in the start. Also I don’t know if the entirety of the ending works. I can’t really say exactly why, but it gets back to that relateability factor and a few actions made by Ingrid in the third act left me saying, “Why should I like this girl?”. Without spoiling anything, I wasn’t sure whose side I should be on in the end, which maybe some will take as a positive, but I felt left out of the loop on where the film was in the last act.
As I conclude here, I was originally thinking 7/10 for this one, and it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve seen the film that now I’m writing this review, but in retrospect, the negatives aren’t sticking with me as much as the positives, and especially rethinking how horribly botched The Circle was, that makes this film even better. Again, Aubrey Plaza doesn’t exactly make a strong main character that you root for 100% of the time, but we follow her enough that maybe you might not want to hang out with her in real life as a character, but I wouldn’t mind re-watching this film to re-visit her and see her journey out west.
My rating: 8/10.