Ingrid Goes West
For as long as people have accomplished something that distinguishes themselves from the common throng there has been the concept of fame. The crucial part of that statement lies with the verb, accomplished. The recipient of the adulation must have done something tangible to warrant the attention of others. The veracity of that paradigm has last for a very long time until rather recently. That pathway to broad exposure to such a considerable number of people drastically changed with the advent of social media. Internet-driven platforms including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have created a platform where anyone has the potential to reach millions of people referred to as ‘followers’. it has become common for people of a more seasoned generation to take advantage of such platforms. As a matter of transparency, I admit that I use Facebook to assist in remaining connected to family members and reconnect with many childhood friends. I also regularly watch videos on YouTube finding connect that is consistently informative and entertaining. The line for most people is there to maintain a firm emotional and psychological grip on the difference between in-person relationships and those based on millions of bytes streaming through the internet. Independent film has remained one of the most reliable sources of fresh entertainment. Unfettered by many of the constraints frequently attached to movies produced by the major studios. ‘Ingrid Goes West’ examine what can happen when the lines between online and IRL, in real life, become blurred beyond any semblance on meaningful restraint. This film is a modern exploration of an emotionally damaged and psychologically unsteady young woman who uproots her entire life to pursue a unilateral relationship based on a boilerplate response to an online comment expressing unreciprocated feelings. The multi-talented filmmaker behind this cinematic artistic expression is Matt Spicer. His list of credits may be brief, and this opus is his feature-length film premiere, but his name has already garnered a considerable amount for favorable recognition on the film festival circuit. Guiding the talents of a pair of amazing actresses, Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen. The result is an inciteful comedy/drama that will entertain.
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is a young woman with an unfortunately tenuous grip on reality, residing in Pennsylvania. Through Instagram she discovers Charlotte (Meredith Hagner), an online friend failed to invite Ingrid to her wedding. Despite the ardor felt by Ingrid the feeling was not reciprocated. Her disturbed mental state could not consider such a slight was possible. So, the lack of an invitation did not deter her insistence on attendance. Upon crashing the reception Ingrid maces, the bride in the face. Ingrid may have seen her actin as a valid, albeit intense means to react t the betrayal. However, the authorities had another opinion. Ingrid is given a stay in a mental health facility. Ingrid attempts to explain citing the recent loss of her mother, the only person to show any kindness to her. Sometime later Ingrid overhears a guest that attended the ill-fated affair who stated that Charlotte was never friends Ingrid. The only contact she ever had with the troubled young woman was to comment on one of her posts casually. Ingrid has a mental illness called erotomania which recognized in the definitive clinical reference for psychiatric disorders, the DSM-5. The defined symptoms are the delusional belief that another person is in love with the patient. The object of the delusions is typically a person of the higher social status of famous. In Ingrid’s case, the definition of higher status or fame is entirely determined by their social media presence. Nearing a point of view inconsistent with her dilutional perspective begins to overwhelm Ingrid so, consistent with the disorder’s symptomology, she focuses on a new object of her obsession. Ingrid is attracted to an online personality, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Ingrid comments on a photo of Taylor and receives a trivial response, but even such a minor communication with her new ‘beloved’ is sufficient to kick the delusional relationship into overdrive. When Ingrid receives a windfall in the form of a $60,000 inheritance when her mother dies there was only one logical thing to do, at least from her wrapped point of view. She uproots her life to move to Los Angeles to further her friendship with Taylor. She rents a house in a house in Venice from Dan Pinto (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), a novice screenwriter and Batman enthusiast. Thanks to the incessant need for self-documentation via social media, Ingrid knew precisely where to go to be close to Taylor constantly. Ingrid goes so far with her infatuation by having her look and style altered to resemble Taylor.
A person afflicted with erotomania is typically able to develop and execute elaborate screams to infiltrate themselves into their subject’s life. Ingrid spots Taylor at frequent shop following her to Taylor’s home. The internet personality shares her home with her husband, pop artist Ezra (Wyatt Russell), and their little dog, Rothko. Continuing her plan, Ingrid kidnaps the pet and upon returning it refuses cash for her ‘good deed.’ She does have dinner with them. This does feed Ingrid’s need for escalating contact with Taylor, but this is usually when the darker aspects of the pathology being to appear. Now that Ingrid considers herself a close, friend of Taylor she is devastated when reality fails to live up to her fantasy. Things begin to crumble when while inebriated she crashes Dan’s truck causing him to miss an important rehearsal. While not directly concerned with Taylor, it does manage to force reality’s intrusion into the perfect life she imagines. The impingement of reality into Ingrid’s increasing, albeit imaginary relationship with Taylor continues to crumble. She is distraught when Taylor bails on plans made with Ingrid to attend a party with Nicky (Billy Magnussen), a recovering drug addict. Ingrid feels completely betrayed when Taylor tells a fashion blogger, Harley Chung (Pom Klementieff), about her dream of opening a thrift store. Ingrid thought that this was a personal secret that Taylor only shared with her. Viewers with a sharp eye might recognize Ms. Klementieff for her role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the newest member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Mantis. Both Ms. Olsen and Ms. Klementieff will share the screen in the highly anticipated MCU feature, ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’
Portraying a person with a psychological disorder or emotional problems always presents a fine line between the potential for great performances and something that will come across to the audience as offensive or utterly ridiculous. There are few actresses currently active in their craft that can coax such a textured performance with these parameters as can Ms. Plaza. For much of her career, she has specialized in roles that presented characters ranging from quirky to outright deranged. This has given her the requisite background to portray Ingrid as a multifaceted young woman with a definable mental illness rather than defining her role only as a person with erotomania. That direction would inevitably result in a potentially offensive, one-dimensional character rather than permitting to see Ingrid as a fully formed, albeit damaged person. When this amazing performance is juxtaposed to the one provided by Ms. Olsen the resulting synergism makes for an incredible experience. Ms. Olsen has worked hard at honing her command of her craft giving some of the best performance on screen during her formative years. Currently, she is a seasoned journeywoman actress with an impressive emotional range. The filmmaker, Matt Spicer, did a brilliant job in pulling the coalescing their performances into a tender drama highlighted with humor.