Ingrid Goes West (4 stars)

Ingrid Goes West

LFF 2017: Aubrey Plaza is wildly funny in this portrait of a cyberstalker from Matt Spicer

Social media show-offs are lampooned mercilessly in this wildly funny film from first-time writer-director Matt Spicer that brings us into the crazed orbit of cyberstalker Ingrid Thorburn. Played by the excellent Aubrey Plaza, whose commitment to comedy knows no bounds, Ingrid's rabid consumption of a stranger's boastful posts leads this deranged 'Instafan' to create a trail of all-too tangible havoc.

We meet Ingrid deep in the depths of delusion as she turns up at her online girl-crush's wedding, mace in hand. The ensuing institutionalisation barely scratches the surface of her problems and she leaves contrite but no less damaged, before quickly moving on to her next obsession: Elizabeth Olsen's Taylor Sloane (part-time photographer, full-time narcissist). Upping sticks to be near her, Ingrid makes the move to California and remakes herself in Taylor's carefully cultivated image, kidnapping her dog to facilitate an introduction.

O'Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton) is hugely endearing as Ingrid's Batman obsessed landlord Dan Pinto, a man sweetly more interested in the real, imperfect Ingrid, and Wyatt Russell plays Taylor's long-suffering, oft-inebriated husband, who is exhausted by her ludicrous pretence of perfection. Smartly written, the film nails the physical comedy too: Ingrid's attempts to ingratiate herself with Taylor are hilarious, while a mechanic is forced to lie down in dirt in order to take a 'candid' snap of the two women.

However extreme her behaviour, Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith remain sympathetic to their protagonist, never letting us forget that she's a vulnerable young woman seeking a connection. Moreover, the fantasy world Ingrid lives in is of Taylor's own creation and yet just one of them is labelled insane. We see how Taylor is able to be duped by Ingrid because she buys into her own hype, and the film exposes the insincerity of courting the approval and adoration of others – creating a platform by which you can profit – only to deride and dismiss those that have raised you up.

Attempts to shade in Ingrid and Dan's tragic backstories are cursory and more than a little clichéd, but so spot on is the satire that it's hard to imagine this being done better. And, although social media fanatics are the film's primary target, more people than would care to admit it will be caught by its swipes.

Screening on Sat 7, Sun 8 and Sat 14 Oct as part of the London Film Festival 2017. General release from Fri 17 Nov.

Ingrid Goes West

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 1h 38min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Matt Spicer
  • Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O'Shea Jackson Jr
  • UK release: 17 November 2017

Ingrid (Plaza) is a cyberstalker who becomes obsessed with part-time photographer and social media star Taylor (Olsen). Writer/director Spicer’s debut is a wildly funny and smartly written look at narcissism and fantasy, with Jackson Jr highly endearing as Ingrid’s nerdy landlord and Plaza excellent as the crazed…