How would Ingrid operate if not for social media? It occurs to me watching this movie that social media, especially Instagram where pictures probably tell much more about one's life (and with those ever-so leading tells from the little description under the picture, with those hashtags saying the most in the briefest visual communication), doesn't create people to become more isolated and depressed and incensed, but it certainly doesn't do much to help.
In the case of Ingrid, she is someone for who following someone on Instagram is the lifeline into their lives, and if it doesn't create those who are on the outside and need help and don't have it, it exploits it for her. It's possible she could have seen the article about Taylor, the Elizabeth Olsen character - but it's not very likely *Taylor* would have become known as "The Best Friend," seemingly every-so hip and trending, but also a welcome mat for... those who are looking for a friend!
This is one of thoseultra-no-light-whatsoever-black comedies, and it's comedic because we can recognize that low pit of loneliness and despair and cringe along with everyone else as things become intense and estranged and obfuscation and the truth collide (or some of us can - if possible maybe some are secretly more like Taylor, hiding who they are to be much cooler than they really are - or even Taylor's significant other Ezra, who quits his job to become an artist but doesn't sell anything, or maybe Dan is more like it, the would-be screenwriter inspired by Batman Forever - stroke of genius, by the way, that he is *not* inspired by The Dark Knight - or maybe one or two are Taylor's brother Nicky, a real bastard who at least doesn't pretend *too* much about who he is as a character out of a Brett Easton Ellis novel).
In other words, Ingrid Goes West does involve, on paper, one of those psycho-stalker women who we usually see becoming attached to the presumably more together other woman, but that's where the similarities between those kind of movies (mostly) end. The tone is set at the beginning for what one assumes is someone who is off the deep-end as Ingrid f***s with another girl on her wedding. Why this happens is less important than what comes immediately after as she's put into psychiatric care. Will she try to better herself? Hardly, but it would seem like she's not exactly dangerous... at least, not so right away. I'd say there's a bit of the Rupert Pupkin in her, but I'm not sure if she is precisely trying to be *famous* like he was, or has that goal - or, to rephrase it, the goals of Pupkin then and Ingrid now are and aren't the same.
Ingrid sees a way of life and wants to have something as close to that as possible (through certain means that come through a believable plot contrivance, if that makes sense, she doesn't have to work right away and can use the pad via O'Shea Jackson's Batman friend), but it's more than anything about... being friends with someone. It's a fascinating dynamic since the movie is in a large way about her trying to figure out if what Taylor has is what she *really* wants or to have an authentic connection. While Matt Spicer's film (from his and Branson Smith's script) has a lot of wildly funny moments - sometimes through sheer surprise of 'That's genuinely f****ed' but also other times through the simple act of capturing behavior in a wonderfully, insanely exaggerated way - it's about deeper concerns that happen for people who don't, necessarily, have a psycho-stalker hanging around them in the LA hipster-ish-arts scene.
The Instagram and social media aspect is the key; we use these conduits to connect together and, indeed, to show people how we're living our lives (sometimes, as is mentioned casually and briefly but importantly, sometimes if one is lucky one gets *paid* to post such things online like a sponsor, hence Taylor's photography), but it also lessens how to truly connect to a person. I don't imagine Ingrid's mother, who is dead by the start of the movie, used social media, and this is a relationship that mattered a lot and sort of broke Ingrid further than she had been before (I don't also imagine she was ever exactly part of any cliques exactly, but she did have *someone* to connect with face to face on a fundamental level). So by the time a final, crucial confrontation occurs, sort of right before the climax but in the midst of it, what both sides say is true about the other.
Oh, and I should mention about now that the acting here is terrific. Plaza, to be sure, is the stand-out and continues a scorching-all-she-sees hot streak from her recent run on the show Legion (which, in a rather odd way, this *could* be a tangential prequel to, in way, maybe, sorta, I dunno), and she delivers on the awkward/harsh comic timing, and yet more-so on the dramatic level. But while without her, perhaps, the movie doesn't work as well, Olsen and Jackson and even Russell for a couple of crucial scenes stand out as well; Olsen, especially, gets to have a kind of character I'm not sure she's played before, or at least like this, and the layers to her are subtler to go for, and she digs in as much as she can (in a sense her character's most honest time, ironically, is when she's bonding with Ingrid on a drunken/coke-filled free for all, you'll find out why this is, and it makes for an awesomely peculiar dynamic).