Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sundance with Abe: Ingrid Goes West

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fourth time. I had the chance to see a number of films and will be posting reviews of everything I see!

Ingrid Goes West
Directed by Matt Spicer
U.S. Dramatic Competition – Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award Winner

Social media has taken the world to a new place. Many spend hours and hours on their phones and computers each day, compulsively giving electronical approval to a photo taken by someone they barely know, and how popular or liked someone is can be judged by the strength and volume of their online presence. While few would argue that this has positively benefited society, there are also far more serious issues that can arise from people posting where they are online for anyone to see and others latching on to a perceived real-life friendship with someone they have never even met. What better way to showcase that story than as a comedy?

Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) is first introduced when she shows up to a wedding and pepper-sprays the bride, someone she follows online and deemed a horrible person for not inviting her. After some time in a mental institution, Ingrid starts a new stalking cycle when she reads about Los Angeles-based photographer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). After Taylor responds to one of her tweets, Ingrid takes the money her late mother left her, rents the first place she finds, and begins to insert herself into Taylor’s life by following her every move online and parroting back to her all the things she likes. Soon, Ingrid actually becomes Taylor’s best friend, but that kind of relationship is destined not to last forever.

There are elements of this movie which really aren’t funny, since Ingrid obviously does have grave problems that prevent her from understanding what friendship means and that she is crossing so many lines by invading Taylor’s privacy and trying to hijack into her life. Yet it’s an important lesson about just how much is put out there and how this kind of thing could easily happen in real life and surely does. Ingrid may lie about a lot of who she is, but little of what comes out of Taylor’s mouth and finds its way to the keyboard on her phone stands as a resounding thought or honest truth either (she and Annette from fellow Sundance feature “L.A. Times” would get along well).

Ultimately, this is a comedy designed to tell a funny story and provide laughs, and that it does. Anyone other than Plaza would not have been nearly as fantastic in this role, and she has a great ability to make Ingrid seem just over-the-top enough without making her totally ridiculous as a person. Olsen is great as the vainest character she’s ever played, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. is a fun supporting player as Ingrid’s Batman-loving neighbor. This film does offer plenty to think about regarding how in touch we are with social media and out of touch with everything else, and it’s just as worthwhile as a solid comedy movie.

This film was picked up at Sundance by Neon and should be coming out sometime soon!


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