Directed By: Matt Spicer
Written By: David Branson Smith & Matt Spicer
Cinematography By: Bryce Fortner
Editor: Jack Price
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr. Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, Pom Klementieff, Joseph Breen, Angelica Amor
Ingrid Thorburn is an unhinged social media stalker with a history of confusing “likes” for meaningful relationships. Taylor Sloane is an Instagram-famous “influencer” whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s latest obsession. When Ingrid moves to LA and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star’s life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF.
The film seems to try and introduce or teach us things about social media that we already know. How fake it is, how it is all about presentation more than anything. How lonely it can be if you place Valerie and belief only in it. How it is more important to actually be social and base friendships more on people you actually know and can talk to personally. Though the film almost tries to treat it as gospel to an unknowing audience.
The film plays like a modern update on THE KING OF COMEDY. Only not as grand or as good. It also seems to be more identifiable then that film. As even watching this I could easily be seen as guilty of some of the behavior. Not as extreme but some of the more beliefs and innocent behavior.
When it comes to most films starring Aubrey Plaza there is a certain dead that goes through them as you watch. It is probably because the film and usually her performances are awkward. They also provide an atmosphere where you know there is going to be not only uncomfortable situations but a scene where you know there will be confrontational where all is revealed. I will say this is one of plaza’s strongest performances. I applaud her for seeking out these types of films. I only wish the films were actually better.
As this film has the right ideas and seems to pull them off, but it also lacks pulling the audience in. As we are told half the time more than shown things and it lacks a subtlety as it more tries to show off and we get to see the depths of Ingrid’s obsession. While it roots for her it also shows how despicable her actions are.
You can deal with almost none of the characters being likeable. As we slowly get to know the reality of them. Rather then what they try to portray to the outside world. Even the supposedly upstanding husband who avoids social media to be an artist is pretentious to a degree.
So that slowly the film becomes an CATCHER ON THE RYE allegory as Ingrid who has based her whole seduction on lies. Slowly gets to know the person whose friendship she seeks and learns her and those around her are fakes to a degree. Yet she still covers them. As friends and to also boost her own ego. She is majorly co-dependent.
The only other performance and character that is noteworthy is Dan played by O’Shea Jackson Jr., who is her landlord and sometimes boyfriend who seems to be the only person who actually cares about her and all she does is use him. As other then him her only true friend and the only thing that is close to her is her phone.
Billy Magnussen as Nicky brother is the film’s ultimate villain but also seems to be one of the only characters who knows who he is and can see past everything but also chooses to immerse himself in it. As this is the only way to find value and be popular.
Elizabeth Olsen as Taylor, Ingrid’s figure of desire is just a vapid character who tries to come off as genuine and convince you she is wiser then she actually is but also is the type who finds interest in you because you are around until she finds someone more interesting to latch onto or is only interested in what you can do for her. We get to see her be vulnerable but wonder what Ingrid see’s In her. As she seems so transparent and weak willed. Though it seems most of her friends know their place. As they have their own lives and don’t look to her to improve them or for support. Like her to a degree they more socialize and try to use one another for better social standing.
Her performance or character also encapsulates the same frustration that can be felt when it comes to her career as she started off with great promise on MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE. but then seemed to be cast in a bunch of films where she seemed lost or miscast. As she brung nothing in particular to the roles. Though the Marvel movies she is often in help especially noteably and financially. This is more in her wheelhouse and gives the audience hope that she will be this good in future roles. Not ending up like the latest it girl who lacks promise.
There are a ton of think pieces and different things to take away from this film. The film is universal but seems to be a very particular California film. Which works as California is filled with different types of people and culture. This one more focuses on the more vapid society.
The film is a dark comedy that isn’t very funny but leaves a whole bunch of scenes with comedic set-ups. That are played for laughs in a more tragic sad way.
The film also just seems to end abruptly. As we wonder did Ingrid get what she wants or is this another burden. As we also wonder was this a plan or did she really want to end it all. The ending leaves it all open and unanswered. Which I admire. Only wish the film had more depth and courage to have that kind of bravery and oversight throughout the film.
I will give the film credit for tackling these issues. Only would have preferred it be done in a more worthwhile and seemingly truthful way. As the ending almost seems like a joke of wish fulfillment.
Especially in a society where it seems your value and importance is based on how many people follow you rather then how many people you actually know and care about you.
This is one of those films that truly disturbs me as it has so much promise and watching it. Truly can’t decide if it truly nailed something out of compassion or if it is having fun and using something very serious as a punchline. Where as it should be simple to differentiate. Here it is quite difficult which leads to mixed feelings. Which feels like the movie is holding back. I have felt this way when it comes to films like SHE’S OUT OF YOUR LEAGUE and ME, EARL & THE DYING GIRL. They are all challenging to a degree, but maybe feel a bit too personal for me as in the way I am affected and also see myself in these films where I identify too much. Not in the best way.
Which leads me more to judge the film not based on film-making or storytelling skills, but more on subject matter and it’s presentation.