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Film / Ingrid Goes West

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Ingrid Goes West is a 2017 Black Comedy film written and directed by Matt Spicer. It stars Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, with O'Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, and Pom Klementieff in supporting roles. The film premiered in competition at that year's Sundance Film Festival.

The film revolves around Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza), a mentally ill young woman with a history of confusing "likes" on social media for meaningful relationships, with serious effects on those who become her latest fixation.

When she comes across Instagram influencer Taylor Sloane (Olsen), her perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes a perfect foundation for Ingrid's obsession. Ingrid drops everything to move out west to Los Angeles in pursuit of becoming Taylor's friend, and begins insinuating herself into Taylor's life in increasingly bizarre, unsettling and dangerous ways.

This film contains examples of:

  • Acting Unnatural: Ingrid's first attempt to meet Taylor in person results in her knocking over three magazines while trying to blend in. After spending a good fifteen-seconds fumbling over the floor trying to put everything back up, Ingrid decides to leave before Taylor notices her, only to accidentally set off an alarm by leaving the store with a magazine in hand.
  • The Alcoholic: A downplayed example, but Ezra is drinking in nearly every scene he's in to help cope with his artistic inability and his wife's vapidity. He doesn't show the general tropes of being an alcoholic, however.
  • Anti-Villain: Ingrid, whose quest for friendship to fill the void left by her mother's death makes her to go to extremes. Not to mention she clearly doesn't realize how her actions will affect others.
  • Bad Influencer: Taylor is an Instagram celebrity who is superficial, shallow, rude to anyone who can't help her, and ditches Ingrid in a heartbeat when she gets a better offer. However, as she correctly points out, Ingrid is no better if not worse, as a dog-napping obsessive stalker. Then again, the ending implies that Ingrid herself now has at least some online fame, following her suicide attempt, where she is much more dangerous and risk-taking than Taylor, so she may be on her way to being an either better or worse version.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Played for disturbing effect when Ingrid takes dozens of pictures of Taylor while she's sleeping.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Ingrid dresses up as one so she can sneak into Taylor's Halloween party to charge her phone.
  • Beneath the Mask: Taylor at first blush is a very hip, popular girl who keeps up with all the trends and is very popular on Instagram, but below the immediate surface is cultured and has a dream to open a bed and breakfast. Ingrid takes an instant liking to her due to this. However, we learn that she really is kind of vapid and putting up a front just like Ingrid is, though she is much better at it and more stable. She doesn't actually read the books she posts about on Instagram (in fact, the name she had for her bed and breakfast came from a book that she claimed was her favorite book, but it was actually her husband's favorite book, she had never read it). Taylor is also shown to be in deep denial about what a terrible person her brother Nicky is and that her husband is an alcoholic who resents her. In the end, her personality is basically just built around her Instagram persona.
  • Big Bad: While Ingrid is an Anti-Villain as outlined above, Nicky is the true main antagonist of the film, and the most actively horrible character.
  • Binocular Shot: Used a couple of times as Ingrid spies on Taylor from afar.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ingrid's suicide attempt could possibly keep her in the psych ward for a few weeks and her relationship with Taylor and Ezra is broken beyond repair. However, she has tens of thousands of people showing their support for her online and Dan, despite everything she put him through, stays by her side and their relationship will endure. Ingrid smiles, feeling truly loved.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Related to the "Reason You Suck" Speech below, at the end both Ingrid and Taylor have legitimate points about the other. Taylor is understandably upset that Ingrid lied about everything and was little more than a stalker when she came into Taylor's life. And Ingrid isn't wrong that Taylor's life is ultimately a somewhat shallow existence of attention seeking, and that she's in heavy denial about her brother being a terrible person and her husband being disillusioned.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ingrid comes to realize that Taylor isn't as perfect as she thought, and that a lot of her apparent personality was exaggerated to make her appear more interesting on Instagram. Though Taylor is pretty pissed herself when she learns all Ingrid did.
  • Bungled Suicide: Ingrid attempts suicide at the end when she ends up broke and alone. Dan gets her medical attention quickly, allowing her to survive.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the movie, Ingrid finds a gun in Dan's car. Naturally, the gun comes up in the third act when conflict starts a-brewin'.
  • Continuity Reboot: Ingrid's request to start over a relationship registers in Dan's mind as a type of "reboot," a reference to the comic book trope.
  • Country Matters: Ingrid is introduced dropping the c-bomb on a woman for not being invited to her wedding.
  • Ends with a Smile: The movie ends with a smile spreading across Ingrid's face as, after attempting suicide on camera (which she also did while smiling before she passed out), she sees that her Instagram account has been flooded by followers and affection since news of her suicide attempt went around.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Both of Ingrid's obsessions have blonde hair, and Ingrid dyes her own hair blonde when she starts copying Taylor, which also marks the improvement of her social and romantic life.
  • Fanboy: Dan Pinto is writing an unofficial Batman screenplay, jams out to the Batman Forever soundtrack, calls his car the Batmobile, and starts his dates by talking about how great Jim Carrey was as the Riddler.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When crashing Charlotte's wedding, Ingrid is wearing the same dress as the bridesmaids, despite not being invited to start with.
    • Early in the film when Ingrid is driving Taylor home in Dan's car, Taylor finds a gun in the glove compartment. Ingrid quickly says that the gun is fake and meant more for deterrence than actual violence. Near the end of the movie when Nicky attempts to shoot Dan with it, it turns out it really IS fake, just a paintball gun. Nicky is furious.
  • Forgot to Pay the Bill: Ingrid spends money quite lavishly without thought, so it was inevitable that eventually she would run out of money and get her electricity cut off.
  • Gender Flip: The filmmakers have stated that the film is pretty much a gender-flipped The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The first time we see Ingrid, it's just her eyes as she desperately looks through the Instagram feed of a girl she's stalking.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Unbalanced brunette Ingrid and both her blonde obsessions. Downplayed as Ingrid dyes her hair blonde to resemble Taylor before they meet for real.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: A woman in the grocery store notices Ingrid and loudly tells the person she's calling that she's looking at the pathetic stalker who was thrown into an insane asylum. It's unclear if she actually knew that Ingrid could hear her, although when she inevitably sees that her car has been keyed, she'll probably realize who did it.
  • Insistent Appellation: Nicky calls Ingrid "Olga" to needle her.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Ingrid commands Dan not to mention his obsession with Batman because all of her friends would think it's lame and Nicky would just use it to mock him. Cue Nicky walking in and excitedly asking Dan about Batman.
  • Internet Stalking: A major part of the film, as Ingrid is obsessed with Taylor on Instagram.
  • Jerkass: Nicky is an utterly horrible person, even before he blackmails Ingrid by keeping her phone and threatening to reveal her stalker-ish behavior.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Nicky is a terrible person, but when Ezra talks about his hatred of art being commercialized, Nicky hits pretty close to home when he says that Ezra wouldn't care so much if it was his work being paid for. Indeed, later on Ezra reveals he got a job designing the art for hotels.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: If a beautiful young woman waltzed into town and pays thousands of dollars of rent just in cash, you might guess she's an escort too. Though as Dan learns, Ingrid got the money from her mother's inheritance.
  • New Media Are Evil: Ingrid, a depressed and obsessive person, can continue to ignore her psychological problems by using Instagram to learn everything about a woman she admires and employ that information to slowly sneak into every facet of her life. It helps that the Instagram model who Ingrid stalks seems to be less honest than she should be because of her use of social media, in contrast with her techno-illiterate husband.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted Trope; to show Ingrid's dire financial situation, the movie has a post-bathroom scene where she uses ripped book pages in the face of an exhausted supply of toilet paper and money.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Ingrid is deeply miserable. She realizes that the picture-perfect Taylor and her equally picture-perfect friends are miserable, too, not to mention that some of them (such as Nicky) are actively terrible people. She tries to give them a Jerkass Realization, but instead is cast out.
  • Orphan's Ordeal:
    • Dan coped with the death of his parents by dressing up like Batman and calling himself "Bruce", which developed into his adulthood obsession with the superhero.
    • Ingrid seems to have completely gone to pieces because of her mother's death, which seems to be a cause of her obsessions.
  • Otaku: Ingrid can be seen as one of social media/attention, as she's shown throughout the film to be constantly on her phone.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ingrid's mother died of a heart attack a few months before the movie started. Ingrid describes her mother as her best friend and gradually admits that she doesn't know how to cope without her. Conversely, her father is never seen or mentioned.
  • Plot Allergy: Dan is revealed to be allergic to dogs after Ingrid kidnaps Taylor's dog, Rothko, in an attempt to meet her.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Nicky, who sees right through Ingrid and undermines her relationship with Taylor, is introduced mocking a Chinese man with caricatures about his eyes. Ezra mutters about racism as he goes to get another drink.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ingrid and Taylor have one for each other at the end of the movie. Taylor tells Ingrid that they were never truly friends, as Ingrid lied about who she was from the very beginning, and that she is just a shell of a woman, lonely and mentally ill. Ingrid calls Taylor out on the fact that Taylor's entire personality is just a persona created to be popular on Instagram, and also that she is in complete denial that her brother is a terrible person and that her husband resents her for what she's become.
  • Sex for Services: Played for Laughs In-Universe; when Taylor expresses shock that Ingrid's "boyfriend" let her borrow his truck only a week into their relationship, Ingrid hesitantly jokes that she just gave him a handjob for it.
  • Shirtless Scene: Nicky spends the majority of his scenes wearing see-through shirts or no shirt at all. In one of his only one-on-one conversations with Ingrid, he's just wearing a small bathing suit.
  • Shout-Out: Dan Pinto is a massive fan of Batman, to the point that he has the album for Batman Forever in his black car with the license plate "BATM8N" that he likes to called the Batmobile.
  • Social Media Is Bad: Depressed and unhappy, Ingrid tries to befriend a superficial social media influencer because of her "perfect" life, and goes to insane lengths to do so. This predictably implodes horrifically.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Ingrid's feelings for Taylor aren't romantic, but she does still stalk Taylor with the intention of being her best friend. It takes a few levels up when Ingrid endlessly calls Taylor after her failed attempt to scare Nicky (which caused the end of their friendship). It gets to the point where she fills Taylor's mailbox, and calls up to 3AM. It's then that she finally gets an answer... only it's Ezra, who tells Ingrid to leave them alone.
  • Starving Artist: Taylor's husband quit his job to pursue his art career, but he's failed to sell a single piece besides one Ingrid bought to impress his wife. He's quite bothered whenever he hears anyone else is making money of their art and doesn't realize for quite a while that he may be projecting his frustrations on them.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Ingrid survives her suicide attempt and Dan is there with her to start their relationship again.
  • Terrible Artist: Ezra's idea of art is to take pre-existing pictures of random subjects like horses and writing a generic phrase like "SQUAD GOALS" over it in neon paint. Despite his wife's insistent praise, he hasn't sold a single painting, one of the clearest examples of Taylor ignoring an inconvenient reality.
  • Title Drop: While not actually spoken, Ingrid's Instagram handle is "ingridgoeswest".
  • Vanity License Plate: Dan's license plate is "BATM8N" in case every other scene in the movie didn't let you know that he LOVES Batman.
  • Voiceover Letter: All the Instagram captions in the movie are heard aloud in the voice of whoever wrote them, even if they include non-verbal symbols like emojis.
  • Your Make Up Is Running: Ingrid's mascara is all over her face when she busts into a wedding and pepper sprays the bride.