Empire (Australasia) - - On Screen - OLLY RICHARDS

OUT NOW / RATED MA15+ / 98 MINS DI­REC­TOR Matt Spicer

CAST Aubrey Plaza, El­iz­a­beth Olsen

THE WORLD OF In­sta­gram celebrity is easy to make fun of. There’s no short­age of triple-fil­tered, self-con­sciously cu­rated phonies with a string of hash­tags trail­ing their ev­ery care­fully framed move. In­grid Goes West jumps into their world but it doesn’t go for ‘kids to­day!’ mock­ery. It uses In­sta-star­dom as the ba­sis for a dark com­edy about the false face shown by all of us on so­cial me­dia.

The In­grid of the ti­tle is In­grid Thor­burn (Plaza), who has re­cently spent time in a psy­chi­atric fa­cil­ity af­ter mac­ing her ‘best friend’ for not invit­ing her to her wed­ding. In­grid had never in fact met this best friend; she just fol­lowed her on In­sta­gram and fan­ta­sised a re­la­tion­ship. Hav­ing learned ab­so­lutely noth­ing, In­grid, car­ry­ing a bag of cash in­her­ited from her mother, heads to LA in pur­suit of a new In­sta­gram crush, Tay­lor Sloane (Olsen). Tay­lor is blonde, beau­ti­ful and lives the ap­par­ently per­fect life In­grid wants. In­grid man­ages to in­vei­gle her way into Tay­lor’s life, but how long can she main­tain the façade that she’s as cool and happy as Tay­lor?

One of the clever­est things in Matt Spicer’s film, is that so many peo­ple are ly­ing for no rea­son. In­grid com­mits to a fake per­son­al­ity she thinks Tay­lor will like, but Tay­lor seems more in­trigued by In­grid’s odd mo­ments. Tay­lor pre­tends she’s ob­sessed with fancy writ­ers, as if any­one gives a damn if she’s read Joan Did­ion. All this des­per­ate scrab­ble to ap­pear per­fect to other peo­ple, who are scrab­bling just as much, builds this bizarre tower of lies that can only come top­pling down.

It would be easy enough to make ei­ther of these women the film’s vil­lain. In­grid is self­ish and shal­low, us­ing other peo­ple’s emo­tions to ad­vance her own needs, then play­ing the vic­tim if any­one calls her on her ac­tions. Tay­lor could so sim­ply be the bitchy fame-vam­pire who cares for noth­ing and no­body un­less they can help her rack up a few more likes. It’s bet­ter than that. Tay­lor’s shal­low but not a bitch, and In­grid’s only the vic­tim of her own bizarre schemes. It looks at the good and bad in both women and gets to the heart of why they crave ap­proval enough to fake their per­son­al­i­ties.

The cast­ing is per­fect. Plaza brings a new depth to the mis­an­thrope she’s of­ten asked to play, and Olsen is so nat­u­rally warm she takes the chill off Tay­lor.

It’s rare for even a dark com­edy to re­sist get­ting all soft and fuzzy at the end, but In­grid Goes West re­mains black-hearted all the way to its killer last scene. No happy end­ings. No Hol­ly­wood sun­set. No fil­ter.

★★★ ★

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