Fuck-ups Month rages on with a film I’ve watched perhaps a dozen times – and two of those times was this weekend.
An unhinged social media stalker moves to LA and insinuates herself into the life of an Instagram star.
*Minor spoilers/TW: suicide attempts*
Ingrid (Plaza) finds herself in a mental institution following an incident in which she attacks a bride on her wedding day. Our pro/antagonist, you see has a bit of a stalking history and it all comes to a head when she’s left out of her new friend’s marital festivities.
After finishing her therapy, Ingrid returns to an empty family home where she’s been caring for her mother. Mum has recently passed away after what looks like a long illness, which might form a lot of Ingrid’s emotional issues.
Ingrid is a lone wolf with no friends and no other visible family. She finds her comfort on Instagram and perhaps this is why I identify with her so hard. She constantly scrolls through her feed, liking posts left, right and center. One evening she reads a magazine article about social media darling, Taylor Sloane (Olsen). After a healthy stalk of her feed – and a reciprocated comment – Ingrid decides to move to sunny California.
Mum’s passing has afforded her a healthy inheritance and she doesn’t have anything else to stick around for so it’s a no-brainer.
On arrival, she finds her own place, courtesy of new landlord, Dan Pinto (Jackson), a Batman-obsessed screenwriter – and sets about meeting Miss Sloane. Which seems easier that expected, though when their first encounter is less than satisfactory, Ingrid is forced to engineer a proper encounter.
Ingrid’s plan works and she quickly becomes a fixture in Taylor’s life. Taylor lives with boyfriend Ezra (Wyatt Russell), a struggling artist unwilling to promote his work. It’s unclear what Taylor really does but she calls herself a photographer and has designs on a vacant house next to the couple’s holiday home in Joshua Tree. She plans to turn it into a hotel-cum-store selling all her favourite things.
Things are great (and photogenic as hell) between the new friends until Taylor’s deadbeat brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) shows up and Taylor visibly cools. Ingrid’s attempts to keep the home fires burning don’t really work, even when she brings fake boyfriend Dan into the mix. Once again she’s forced to take drastic measures.
Nicky really has it in for Ingrid and when he hacks her phone, he realises just how #obsessed she is with Taylor. Which leads to a shoddy blackmail campaign that backfires spectacularly. Will Ingrid lose everything she currently holds dear?
IGW has a lot to say about fakery and the personas we choose to share with the world. While Ingrid hides her fucked up-ness from her new friends, Taylor has also built an empire on an image of who she thinks people want to see. She’s so different to the person Ezra fell in love with that he hardly recognises her and all her favourite things are his favourite things.
It’s very bleak. Taylor is extremely fickle and has qualities I’ve seen in friends in the past. When Nicky starts hanging out with blogger Harley Chung (Pom Klementieff), Taylor already knows she has ‘over a million followers on Instagram’ and is quick to ditch Ingrid for a new crowd. It makes me feel quite sick.
I’m also not always crazy about morality tales (you know what I mean, Black Mirror: phones are bad-type messaging) so I was quite happy that Ingrid doesn’t really change at the end. After a serious personal incident, Ingrid wakes up and immediately asks for her phone. And she’s delighted to learn that her actions have gone viral.
We explore some very harsh themes and I feel for her but Ingrid is not particularly likable and neither is Taylor. Honestly, the only character I really have time for is Dan Pinto, who brings a certain calm to proceedings.
Both lead actresses are amazing though and play their parts to perfection, particularly Olsen. I love the way her character narrates her social media posts while Ingrid is stalking her. It really drives home how vacuous and foolish we can sound, God knows I’m guilty of that.
Another day, another avocado toast. *Prayer hands emoji*
I appreciate the concept of loneliness so much and maybe that’s why this speaks to me. As a teenager I was crippled with awkwardness and didn’t feel as though I had many friends. If I’d had a window into other people’s lives back then who knows what would have become of me – I may have been one click away from becoming Ingrid myself.
Shit, maybe phones are bad.