Review: Mainstream

Though Gia Coppola’s Mainstream presumes to address the way online culture has highjacked culture in general, its flashy, colorful style and pretensions to quick wit reveal an eagerness to appeal to the same kind of jaded sensibilities that the movie lampoons. Coppola’s proxy is Frankie (Maya Hawke), a struggling video artist who can barely attract 100 people to view her work on the internet, and thus makes a living as a bartender in the kind of place that uses her videos as wallpaper. Frankie’s life is presented as a cautionary tale, a means of sending up media trends as fashion trends as lifestyle trends ad nauseum. The idea that there’s no substance to Frankie’s life can be taken to mean that there’s no substance to Coppola’s movie, but then Link shows up.

Link (Andrew Garfield) is first seen wearing a stuffed animal costume outside a Los Angeles mall that Frankie is incorporating into one of her videos. Link has the chutzpah in selling his sorry ass that Frankie can’t muster to sell her art, and a kind of bond is formed. Link’s shtick is to reject “all that,” meaning the phone, the internet, all the trappings of our “connected society.” The viewer immediately pegs him as a  crank, but Frankie sees a “project.” Link becomes the star of a new series of videos that Frankie produces with her partner, Jake (Nat Wolff), called “No One Special,” which encourages people to do as Link does and unplug.

What follows is entertaining enough despite its utter predictability as a rise-and-fall tale of celebrity. Just because Coppola is using the formula to explore the work of influencers doesn’t make it necessarily fresh, though it does offer Garfield a chance to act out in some amazing ways. Since I am not an avid YouTube watcher, many of the jokes that accompany the improvement in production values of Link’s videos likely flew over my head, but I got the point: content is overrated for the terminally engaged. “I don’t get people’s tastes any more,” someone says about, seemingly, everything. It’s too general a complaint to base an entire movie on. 

Now playing in Tokyo at Shinjuku Piccadilly (050-6861-3011), Shibuya Cine Quinto (03-3477-5905).

Mainstream home page in Japanese

photo (c) 2020 Eat Art LLC

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