- THE ANTIHERO: Aubrey Plaza stars in 'Ingrid Goes West.'
These days, it's only polite to do a bit of stalking. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Google results (first page only, please), LinkedIn, Tinder profiles, old Tumblrs, the quaint old lake cottage of a personal website — they're all open for browsing. Imagine the back-in-my-day reaction of some '90s-era snoop who would literally have to sift through trash or run license plates.
The abundant overshares from every direction make a true 2010s stalker, one like our homegirl Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) of "Ingrid Goes West," a curious creature. We first meet her parked outside a wedding she wasn't invited to, scrolling through the new bride's "#perfect" Instagram posts. Ingrid works up some nerve, stomps into the reception, and maces the beaming bride right in the schnoz.
The hashtag is a way to invite strangers into a conversation, but not to this degree. Scorned and then hospitalized, Ingrid endlessly double-taps the Instagram photos on her phone — like, swipe, like, swipe, like, swipe — in a portrait of loneliness as convincing as any you're likely to see in a film aimed at a young audience. Desperate for friends, she finds one in a magazine feature about a #brand #ambassador in Venice, Calif., named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen, loosening up from her turn as Marvel's Scarlet Witch). Ingrid packs up for Southern California, flush with cash from an inheritance and with nothing more on her mind than making an IRL friend from her smartphone daydreams.
Director Matt Spicer, who shares a screenwriting credit with David Branson Smith, treats Ingrid kindly, in spite of her constant conniving, her manipulation and her outbursts of violence. She's awkward enough to be endearing — Plaza shows a knack here for physical comedy that takes the dark edge off — and, hell, probably a sweet enough person if you really get to know her? So what if she has to gently petnap Taylor's dog in order to "find" and return him? Once Taylor and her struggling-artist husband (Wyatt Russell) actually meet her, they're charmed! Ingrid just needed an in, y'all. You ain't trying if you ain't cheating, and you aren't really sliding into someone's DMs unless you're willing to go a little bit "Fatal Attraction" along the way.
As an antihero, she almost gets to have it both ways. She does get a comeuppance once Taylor's fratty Ken doll of a brother (Billy Magnussen) arrives and, sniffing out her desperation, preys on her. But she's also able to drop her house-of-mirrors phoniness around her neighbor/landlord Dan (O'Shea Jackson Jr. in his first part since playing his dad, Ice Cube, in "Straight Outta Compton"). Theirs would be a meet-cute rom-com if she were anything more than a cosmic flake, and to him, a struggling screenwriter who idolizes Batman, she's just a hot cipher for him to woo.
When she asks him why Batman — a hero with, ostensibly, no superpowers — Dan replies that it's because he's the world's greatest detective. At some level, Ingrid relates. She's what happens when you find yourself in an information-overload world and decide you need to know more. You wouldn't want to be her, despite her Beyoncé-esque bone structure and address built for beachy sunsets. But damned if you don't wander out of this one a bit dazed, wishing you knew her better, with the faintest itch of lingering FOMO.