Aubrey Plaza is a national treasure, but the movies still haven't figured out what to do with her. Ingrid Goes West comes close, though, with its twisted, of-the-moment tale of an Instagram stalker who infiltrates the personal life of a social media celebrity. But for all its many virtues, it doesn't quite take full advantage of its star's dark, unpredictable energy. It's ultimately too sweet, too much of a bouncy Indiewood quirk-fest to do right by her sublime strangeness.
Plaza plays Ingrid, whom we meet as she stomps furiously into the wedding of what appears to be a friend, and then wreaks unholy hell by macing the bride. (This is a promising start.) Turns out that Ingrid is yet another person who mistook social media interactions for real-life friendship, and that opening incident has landed her in an institution. Released from the hospital, and blocked by the woman she had previously been obsessed with, she now fixates on the perfectly named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), a beautiful neo-boho, posting perfectly posed selfies and immaculate snapshots of branded products. Ingrid has found her next victim/BFF. Armed with a bag full of cash she's inherited from her recently deceased mom, our girl heads to Los Angeles. Soon, she's shopping where Taylor shops, getting the same haircut as Taylor, and trying to find a way to connect with her.
Throughout, Plaza is pretty much perfect. Her face can go from wide-eyed and lost to mysteriously knowing in an instant -- an ideal canvas against which other characters can project their different responses to her. There's a strong core of deeply perverse and caustic weirdness here that might have been fully indulged.