Shiny pop satire with a humming undercurrent of existential dread, Ingrid Goes West is a clever, corrosive little trick of a movie, a neon candy heart dipped in asbestos. Aubrey Plaza stars as a woman on the verge of a social-media breakdown; unhinged by real-time images of an acquaintance’s wedding that rudely excludes her, she shows up to the reception in sweatpants and pepper-sprays the bride. After an indeterminate stint in a psychiatric ward, her spirit is revived by a fresh obsession: Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), an Instagram goddess living the impossibly photogenic California dream of avocado toast, Navajo ponchos, and backyard rosé. Armed with a small inheritance, Ingrid follows her manifest destiny out to Los Angeles, determined to befriend Taylor or bust.
Director Matt Spicer (It’s Not You It’s Me) has a keen sense for the loneliness and inanity of a life lived online; his grasping millennials operate like full-time unpaid performance artists, professing undying love for Norman Mailer books they’ve never read and gushing useless superlatives (there is no good or better, only BEST). The lemur-eyed Plaza vibrates with manic intensity, and Olsen is a brilliantly hollow foil. Though strangely, it’s the men who feel most real: Ingrid’s stoner landlord-cum-boyfriend (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Taylor’s shaggy husband (Wyatt Russell), and Billy Magnussen as the ruthless party-boy brother who sees right through his sister’s new BFF. It’s too bad that in the end West doesn’t fully trust its own ugly truths, settling instead for a postscript so glibly, brightly #blessed. B