Yeah, so this scared the fuck out of me.
It's like the most perfect combination of The Talented Mr. Ripley, complete with homoeroticism, with A Clockwork Orange's ending but through the lens of women in the social media age. From the opening moments I really, really felt for Plaza's Ingrid and just wanted someone, anyone to see how broken she is and help her. I mean, I guess that's what was supposed to happen in the psychiatric ward, but I guess that didn't work out at all.
And then, much like Ripley, there's a stretch of the movie where she actually pulls off the lie and things seem like they're going to work out. And amazingly the movie gets you on Ingrid's side. I kept saying, okay, she hasn't lied that much, she can pull this off. But then, of course, Nicky comes along.
Nicky is a fascinating character because he's the world's biggest asshole, but also obviously cares for his sister (although he brings out the worst in her) and has an immediate, intuitive distrust of Ingrid. So when he confronts her, there's this fine balance of him technically being in the right, even if he handles it wrong by blackmailing her, and yet Ingrid actually handles her confession to him so well that I was hoping bygones could be bygones.
At this point I figured the movie would spiral down into violence, but it never quite delves into the dark underbelly like it could. And that's not really this movie. In fact, a major theme of this and of millennial culture is being performative to create an illusion of a life, so it's appropriate that Ingrid never quite goes full Single White Female but dallies in it.
The role of Instagram in the movie is pretty seamless, doubling as a voice-over at times, though it's a little odd to hear someone say what an Emoji is aloud. Guess there was no way around that, but since Olsen's Taylor is supposed to be exuding extreme honesty and confidence, what could have been a more biting satirical delivery feels a little bit off.
What was also off was Ingrid sending letters to Charlotte for half the movie. I understand it's so there could be an Ingrid narration, but that could have been done by her writing a blog or, perhaps, doing little videos throughout the movie, with her suicide one being the capper. It doesn't really matter if #iamingrid is her first video, it matters that it's supposed to be her last.
What's not off is O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Dan Pinto. His Batman obsession is, of course, immediately endearing but the fact that it's specifically Batman Forever really tickled me. His line about, "You're supposed to be Catwoman, but you're just Two-Face" was so earnest! I love it. And segueing into a scene with him already talking about Jim Carrey as the Riddler, haha!
Oh hai, I didn't notice that was Mantis as Harley Chung!
So yeah, great performances all around but there's this tension the whole time, in a very Breaking Bad sort of way, where you're rooting for a troubled person but keep thinking, "If they can just...they'll be okay." Definitely made me uncomfortable, but in a good way. And yeah, definitely sends a chill up your spine about that phone in your hand. I haven't watched Black Mirror yet so I haven't really experienced something like this that engages so brusquely with the modern experience of smartphones.
This movie understands snapping photos of your avocado-spread toast from just the right angle.