By turns nail-biting and bitterly funny, this cautionary tale about a social media stalker and her prey will ring true to digital natives who fall asleep holding their phones. In fact, Ingrid Goes West's early scenes of a blank-faced Ingrid scrolling and liking, scrolling and liking, while she simultaneously brushes her teeth, uses the toilet, and, yes, falls asleep, may make some viewers a little uncomfortable. And while most people likely won't make Ingrid's mistake of assuming that a friendly comment on one of her photos means she's actually made a new friend, social media addicts (and who among us isn't at least a little addicted?) will recognize her all-consuming hunger for recognition and validation.
Ingrid is lonely. Ingrid is desperate. But you wouldn't know it from her social media feed, which transmits only shiny, staged photos of the perfect cauliflower samosa, or a "that'll impress 'em!" book propped ever so casually on a table. Still, Ingrid presumes that Taylor, glimpsed only through her own Coachella-chic posts, must have somehow found the secret to living blissfully. What separates this movie from other darkly comic stalker thrillers is that the audience is allowed to see that not only is Ingrid unbalanced, but Taylor is a great big phony, propping up a problematic life by performing for her followers. Ingrid's quest for connection is futile, true, but Taylor's curated persona is empty, her stardom and self-worth illusive. The final, satisfying irony? Ingrid never sees the light. The movie ends as it begins: scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. Always looking for the next thing to "like." Because it just has to be better than what's going on in real life right now.