• 24 Apr - 30 Apr, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Gia Coppola’s first feature Palo Alto chronicled teenagers stumbling toward adulthood way back in distant 2013; her new Mainstream features a trio of 20-somethings plundering the Internet culture of their time, bartering their values for big cash and followers on social media but still, of course, looking for love. It's a messy, childish scrawl of a film, but it is high on energy. Andrew Garfield leaves his mark as a screaming, spontaneous, unstable genius who dazzles the Internet like a latter-day Jim Carrey in a Gen Z version of The Truman Show.

Frankie (Maya Hawke) has dropped out of school after her father’s death and is working as a barista in a sordid club off Hollywood Boulevard, along with her sensitive buddy Jake (Nat Wolff), who can sing and write. Her chance encounter with a wacky young man in a cockroach costume (Garfield) stimulates her creative juices, among others, and they get acquainted in a string of weird encounters, which she tapes.

Calling himself Link and looking like a blond beach boy, the mysterious fellow heats up the Internet when Frankie posts his loud-mouthed rants. He remains unimpressed. “You don’t realise how hard it is to get hits,” she gasps. He tells her he doesn’t own a phone.

Link orders his new followers to meet him after dark in a graveyard – of course they all show up – and to put their phones on a tombstone until the battery dies. More videos bring more fame and a savvy social media agent, played with sublime sleaze by Jason Schwartzman. Now money and sponsors raise their ugly heads, along with the need to keep increasing traffic.

Link, whose stage name is No One Special, is asked to host a game show written by Jake and run by Frankie. But when the camera’s on, no one can stop his outrageous stream of insults and nonsense. When he bullies a member of the audience (Alexa Demie) into posting her unmade-up face with a birthmark to her thousands of followers, tragedy follows. “The audience killed her,” he justifies himself. “I was just trying to wake them up.” Editor Glen Scantlebury does an inventive job carving a frantic pace out of thousands of disparate pieces of film and animation. Devonte Hines' score is deeply embedded in the imaginative, rather childish visuals.

– Compilation