Aubrey Plaza’s latest project, Ingrid Goes West, a comedy-drama directed by Matt Spicer, hit theaters Aug. 11 to relatively mixed reviews. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January where Neon acquired the distribution rights to the film.
The story begins when “Ingrid Thorburn” (Plaza) attacks a bride at her wedding in what is clearly a mental breakdown. In a quick expository montage, we see Ingrid go to a mental institution, recover, live at home alone, spend ample time on social media, and then learn that she has inherited a large sum of money from her recently deceased mother.
Then Ingrid goes west! In a desperate need to make a human connection, Ingrid packs up her things, cashes her check and heads to Los Angeles searching for a new life and a new friend, “Taylor Sloane” (Elizabeth Olsen). Ingrid deeply envies Taylor’s glamorous lifestyle as she displays it on Instagram. The rest of the movie follows the girls’ complicated friendship.
Overall, the cast delivers as best they can for the roles they were given. Plaza proves herself as a champion crier, and Olsen demonstrates a cold side she rarely taps into on screen. O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays an aspiring screenwriter named “Dan,” gives the most charming performance of the ensemble.
Despite the funny performances and laughable moments in the first act, the movie, as a whole, fails to hold onto any central message or inkling of positivity. Stories do not exist to deliver good feelings or positive messages to the world, but the first half of the movie sets up a classic underdog story only to let the audience down with a finale too vague and cynical to decipher.
Ingrid Goes West might make you laugh, but your life will not be changed.