The dark comedy, which premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, closed the L.A. Film Festival at the ArcLight in Culver City Thursday night.
In the indie film, Plaza’s character Ingrid Thornberg moves across the country to Los Angeles and forges a friendship with her Instagram obsession, played by Elizabeth Olsen. Matt Spicer co-wrote and directed “Ingrid Goes West” to explore conflicting feelings about social media.
“If the film is about anything, it’s about a plea for authenticity,” he told Variety. “I don’t think social media is necessarily good or bad, it’s sort of whatever you use it for. Hopefully people come away from the film saying, ‘I’m going to be myself on social media, not trying to be something that I’m not.'”
There’s a universality in Ingrid’s mindset of just wanting to be liked, Plaza said.
“I don’t think the film is an indictment against social media,” she said to Variety. “It’s a human story. The social media element touches on what society is dealing with right now but the human story is everlasting.”
Though Plaza’s character has a considerably toxic relationship with social media, she classifies her personal rapport as more complicated than it is unhealthy.
“It kind of goes against every instinct in my body so I try to keep it to a minimum, but I think it also can bring people together,” she said to Variety. “I don’t want to totally pan it, but I’m very weary of it.”
In a theme the movie touches on, Spicer said apps can help people communicate with people they don’t necessarily know. Still, he said he’s just as obsessed with social media as anybody.
“It definitely gets to the point where I find myself checking it, just not even thinking about it,” he said. “That’s the bad part about it. It just becomes this repetitive thing you do like smoking or something, it’s an addiction.”
And though the setting satirizes such quintessential aspects of L.A., it resonates with audiences globally, Spicer said.
“There’s so many stereotypes about L.A. that I think they can laugh about L.A. even if they’re not from here,” he said. “Obviously we live here so we laugh about it for different reasons because we see it every day. I’ve been really surprised and impressed by how much it travels.”
“Ingrid Goes West” opens Aug. 11 through new distributor Neon.
(pictured: Aubrey Plaza and Matt Spicer)