Ingrid Goes West & the reality of what’s “Real”

That’s “Real” with a capital “R”

***Spoilers for Ingrid Goes West***

There’s going to be a lot of thought pieces on Ingrid Goes West, a wonderful piece of dark satire that made my skin crawl and changed the way I look at Instagram. Here are some initial thoughts to get the ball rolling:

  • Tactile vs. Digital — We see a constant mirroring or parallelism between digital experiences and tactile experiences. The Digital world- in this case Instagram, is fake and easily curated. The tactile world- books, people, places, are all real. In fact, these things give us some of our most “organic” moments in the film. (I put organic in quotes because I can’t not think of organic farmers market nonsense whenever I see that word now.) (Which sucks because that’s such a good word to use in art critiques. Whatever.) Taylor opens up to Ingrid at her weekend home. Ingrid and Taylor bond at a club. Taylor’s poolside sees the strengthening and the deterioration of relationships.
  • Case in point: Ingrid reads the books that Taylor pushes in her Instagram. These books contain some real nuggets of wisdom, which Ingrid and Taylor twist to make #hashtags. Toward the end of the film, Ingrid learns that Taylor never even read the books she said she did, it was all a sham.
  • To really drive this point home, Ingrid uses pages from The White Album (or was it The Deer Park?) to wipe her ass. She even has the opportunity to buy toilet paper later, but doesn’t have enough money for TP and beer, so she opts for the beer instead. (That’s the most college decision I’ve ever seen.)
  • Phones — Anyone who has a phone in their hand in this film is fake af. Dan, Ingrid’s landlord and also boyfriend, never has a phone in his hand. He’s real as real can be. In fact, let’s talk about Dan really quick:
  • When Ingrid doesn’t bring his truck back, he’s not worried about the truck, he’s worried about her. He wears his heart on his sleeve and opens up about his passion (Batman) even if it means ridicule. He opens up to Ingrid about his sexual fantasy of having sex with Catwoman (what a scene that was). This guy is super Real. He’s not trying to be anything but himself. Not surprisingly, Dan ends up with the short end of the stick at the end of the film.
  • For as much as I hate him, Nicky- Taylor’s “fuckboi” brother- is also super real. He’s unapologetically him. It happens that Nicky is a POS but that doesn’t stop him from being the best at it. Dan even likes Nicky. Real recognizes Real. Literally.
  • You can even sympathize with Nicky at some level. He’s looking out for his sister. Ingrid truly is disturbed. He’s just a douche about it.
  • Art — Taylor’s husband, I don’t remember his name because honestly he doesn’t matter that much, struggles to promote his art while not trying to #promote his art. He wants it to speak for itself. As a writer who posts to Medium, I get this guy. Also as a writer who posts to Medium, f — this guy. Your art does not speak for itself you’ve got to put it out there because no matter how good you are if no one sees your stuff, it’s therapy. It’s fine if it’s therapy and if it’s for you. If you want people to see your stuff but you don’t put it out there, I don’t feel bad for you.
  • (Man I really got heated at Taylor’s husband. This movie made me feel things.)
  • But the husband’s art, like theSquad Goals horses that Ingrid buys from him, is basically a metaphor for this movie. It’s millennial vibes over a timeless form. Instagram meets stalker flick. But stalker movies work so well because of the time periods they are set in. It’s a genre that lends itself well to drawing whatever ails a generation over the anti-hero, and this movie is no exception: drawing our vapid “Like” obsessed culture over Ingrid. And just like that squad of horses on canvas, you find yourself kind of drawn to it. It’s punchy & I dug it.

  • It’s been brought to my attention that people really wanted something to happen to Taylor’s character, and that she gets off scott-free in this movie. I think that’s the point. I think the point is that these types of people don’t lose, at least not in the way that we want them to. Sometimes, but not always. It’s not black and white like that. Taylor is good at curating her life, so of course it will stay intact. In the terms of this movie, where social capital is power, she’s too powerful to be brought down with the tools Ingrid is using. Ingrid is struggling through mental illness, and this is a story about her.

René Castro is an amateur professional writer and a recreational charlatan. He’s not cool enough to have a good Instagram account like Ingrid. Yell at him on Twitter: @Rene4591