Ingrid Goes West is a perverse meditation on E.M. Forster’s dictum: “Only connect!” Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) cannot connect with people in real life, so she follows them online instead. Director Matt Spicer likens her fixation on social media feeds to a mental illness, indicting her and implicating everyone else who’s similarly glued to a smartphone. Plaza, who normally sheds crocodile tears, here cries real ones with equal amounts of distress, insecurity, and despair.
Recovering from a breakdown after her mother’s death, Ingrid reboots her life in Southern California. Once established there, her addictive habit of stalking Instagram stars returns with a vengeance. Spicer conveys her dependence on technology as a kind of moral listlessness, the way Spike Jonze did in Her. Ingrid’s handheld device doesn’t just contain an infinite number of selfies — it’s accommodated the migration of her soul. Plaza’s on-screen presence always carries a certain degree of malice. She is the rightful heir to Wednesday Addams’ death’s-head glare. But when Ingrid collides with Nicky (Billy Magnussen), the brother of someone she’s obsessed with, his Nordic volatility disrupts her ability to menace. He reads her at a party and instantly zeroes in on her vulnerabilities. Nicky and Ingrid are natural enemies. When he steals her phone, she will either get it back or die trying.
Ingrid Goes West
Opens Friday at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema