Social Media Must Die.
* * * 1/2
Arriving with impeccable timing, as they world seems to be waking up to the idea that social media is causing tremendous problems throughout all levels of society – from handing Trump the presidency of the United States to causing mass distraction and anxiety among many of the world’s teenagers – Ingrid Goes West hits a very specific bullseye. As the father of a little girl who will, as surely as night follows day, have to deal with the madness of “likes”, “follows” and virtual relationships, I found the film rather terrifying and certainly urgent.
Not that it’s a horror movie by any stretch. Bathed in the naturalistic, sunny aesthetic of the modern American California Indie, with its gentle handheld camera, perfectly aligned pop soundtrack and über hip cast of Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, Wyatt Russell and O’Shea Jackson Jr., it looks like a comedy on the poster, but it’s a black comedy in the cinema, and one that earns the badge.
Plaza plays a grieving young East Coast woman who relies too much on her phone and social media; “going west” means heading to California to meet a social media contact (Olsen). Both are perfect in their roles. Olsen makes her subtly nuanced portrayal of a modern social media princess look effortless; if, like most of us, you’ve only seen Plaza in comedy, you’ll stand up and take notice of her drama chops here. Jackson Jr., Russell and, in particular, Billy Magnussen are all terrific as alternate versions of Very Californian Dudes.
How Ingrid Goes West affects you will almost certainly depend on your current relationship with social media. If you’ve already disabled your accounts and gone back to simpler ways of communicating, such as speech – or thrown away everything and started building a dwelling by hand somewhere – you’ll be able to scoff at the shenanigans of these tragic hipsters and more than likely find disdain for a movie about their plight. If, like me, you’re a parent of a young ‘un, I suspect the film will light even more fires under your ass and get you thinking of raising your precious spawn so that they can survive the coming horrors of the electronic playground. And if you’re at all like Ingrid – if you’re young and in love with your device and your online connections – I can only hope this alarm bell of a movie hits you like a freight train, if you can stop Instagramming long enough to watch it.