Ingrid Goes West

 

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Two fine actresses head the cast in a film that is decidedly contemporary.

 
Ingrid Goes West

 

Matt Spicer is a new name to me but here he is both director and co-writer with David Branson Smith and he has given us a very individual movie. The star featured is Aubrey Plaza (also a producer in this case) and it is therefore apt that Ingrid Goes West in many ways reminds us of the small-scale independent movies in which Plaza made her name even though this piece, filmed by Bryce Fortner in colour and 'Scope, has a much glossier finish. The titular character played by Plaza is a stalker, an unbalanced loner who moves in on the family of an L.A. photographer named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Ingrid, an inveterate user of Instagram, has become drawn to Taylor through online images of her and has learnt that she lives with her husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell) in Venice Beach. Due to an inheritance from her late mother, Ingrid can afford to travel to L.A., rent an apartment there from aspiring scriptwriter and Batman fan Dan (O'Shea Jackson, Jr) and then contrive to get to know Taylor. The means she adopts to achieve this is to steal Taylor's dog and then to earn her appreciation by claiming that she has found it and will return the animal in person. By now, even if we did not know that Ingrid had spent some time in a mental institution, we would be aware that she is not only obsessed but dangerous.

 

A tale like this could have been presented simply as drama but, as a late knowing reference to the film Single White Female confirms, Spicer and Branson Smith have from the start recognised the absurdities that can encourage such behaviour in this technological age. Accordingly, this is a work that knowingly performs a balancing act, not entirely excluding drama but offering elements of humour and satire that have led to Ingrid Goes West being described by some as a very black comedy. It's a difficult mix to bring off but for much of the time it works. Deliberately cool in tone, the film has a sharp eye for modern behaviour and the screenplay provides rewarding roles, a fact of which the talented cast takes full advantage. Plaza and Olsen may be the stars but the men do well too, not least O'Shea Jackson Jnr as the film's most sympathetic character. Jack Price's editing also contributes to the film's appeal and music is used adroitly.

 

Even so, the later stages don't fully satisfy. Here there is less humour but the film does succeed in suggesting that, however extreme Ingrid's own behaviour may have become, we do live in a society that encourages people to cultivate images. It is also the case that through a telling use of irony the film finds a way to end on a note that is true to the film's unusual tone. The trouble is that to get there it has to let the plot take a turn that not only jettisons the earlier satire but fails to convince dramatically. Ultimately therefore, Ingrid Goes West falls short, but it remains a very individual work containing much of quality and it is unquestionably a film that reflects life today.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, Wyatt Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Billy Magnussen, Pom Klementieff.

 

Dir Matt Spicer, Pro Jared Ian Goldman, Tim White, Trevor White and Aubrey Plaza, Screenplay David Branson Smith and Matt Spicer, Ph Bryce Fortner, Pro Des Susie Mancini, Ed Jack Price, Music Jonathan Sadoff and Nick Thorburn, Costumes Natalie O'Brien.

 

Star Thrower Entertainment/141 Entertainment/Mighty Engine-Universal Pictures.
98 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 17 November 2017. Cert. 15.