Directed by Matt Spicer | Written by Spicer and David Branson Smith | 97 min
With this and The Little Hours, Aubrey Plaza has ascended to queen of the summer’s American indies—producing and starring in both of these weird, wonderful pictures.
We meet her Ingrid crashing the wedding of a supposed former BFF before pepper-spraying the bride. Ingrid has a few issues with aggression, and once she gets clear of a special care facility with a bagful of cash she moves out to Venice Beach, inspired by Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), a California photographer who presents the perfect life on her Instagram account and becomes the fresh object of Ingrid’s obsession.
Ingrid walks a perfect edge of rage and pain—we’re horrified of and concerned for her in equal measure. Plaza is a mass of barely concealed twitches, but everyone around her is too self-involved to notice, or maybe just willing to believe her lies because she flatters them with her attention. Plaza has a tendency to stare into the middle distance just off camera, prompting audience collusion/revulsion. It’s probably her best performance to date with the help of an ideal supporting cast. Olsen is so attractive a presence the depth of her narcissism isn’t immediately obvious, while O’Shea Jackson Jr, as Ingrid’s landlord/love interest, and Wyatt Russell, as Taylor’s husband, get their own solid moments.
It’s not a perfect film as it gets a little too plotty at the end of the second act, and could have easily and maybe more effectively turned laughs into cold horror in the final scenes, but instead chooses a sweetly obvious way out. But the film’s main target, if it isn’t immediately clear so far, is our false and shallow, social media-consumed culture of privilege at which the film jabs repeatedly and successfully, drawing blood. If your skin crawls the next time you log onto Snapchat or Insta, it’s done its job.