Friday, August 05, 2022

Mainstream (2020 film)


Directed by Gia Coppola and screenplay by Coppola and Tom Stuart from a story by Coppola, Mainstream is the story of a young filmmaker who meets a strange man living off the grid as they would make films on the internet where they would become successful but also controversial. The film is an exploration into the world of internet culture and influencers in which a young woman tries to find a way to be successful where her meeting with this eccentric man would eventually lead to chaos. Starring Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, Nat Wolff, Johnny Knoxville, and Jason Schwartzman. Mainstream is a whimsical yet eerie film from Gia Coppola.

The film explores a young woman who wants to become a filmmaker as she meets a strange man with an exuberant personality as they make internet videos on YouTube where they gain fame although his views on social media and such has also made him a controversial figure. The film is a satire of sorts on the world of social media and influencers in how they use social media where this young woman is hoping to make it as a filmmaker and get some attention as she meets this man who is full of energy and ideas even though he lives off the grid and doesn’t care for social media. The film’s screenplay by Gia Coppola and Tom Stuart has a simple structure in how Frankie Cabot (Maya Hawke) meets this mysterious man in Link (Andrew Garfield) who was wearing a rat costume for his job as she spends her nights working at a nightclub with her friend Jake (Nat Wolff) who is an aspiring musician. Upon getting to know Link and hear his story, Frankie asks Jake to help her come up with ideas for Link as they get the attention to talent agent Mark Schwartz (Jason Schwartzman) who helps Link become a major internet sensation.

Yet, the script also play into Link’s persona and the kind of message he wants to send as the show he, Frankie, and Jake created is a game show where they test a viewer’s desire as will that person sacrifice their phone or their dignity. Going under the stage name No One Special, Link would use the show to play into the many wrongs of social media despite the many contradictions he is bringing with Jake starting to feel neglected in the creative process as he would make some discoveries about Link on his own. Then there’s Frankie who is excited by all of the attention and success but starts to question the moral implications following an episode where a young woman named Isabelle (Alexa Demie) is humiliated by Link during a taping of the episode as it would later have serious consequences. Even as Link becomes more chaotic and confrontational following a livestream hosted by Ted Wick (Johnny Knoxville) with other internet celebrities that only add to Link’s disdain towards internet culture and influencers.

Coppola’s direction is definitely stylish as it is shot on various locations in Los Angeles, California that is the epicenter of celebrity and celebrity culture. Coppola’s direction features a lot of wide and medium shots to play into these locations that include a party at a graveyard along with some intimate moments at the nightclub where Frankie and Jake worked at. There are also some close-ups that Coppola uses as it play into the intimate moments between Frankie and Link as they do get romantically involved much to the chagrin of Jake who has feelings for the former. Coppola does play into the world of internet culture as this form of satire in the way Link presents himself as it starts off with him being a goofball and just making fun of the idea of celebrity culture as it plays into the first act with the second act is about him, Frankie, and Jake finally getting a set to create their show.

Coppola also play into how intense things can become when Link decides to do something in an attempt to boost the show’s viewership following a small decline as it relates to Isabelle as it was a stunt that made Jake really uncomfortable. The film’s third act begins with Link being part of this panel that feature some real-life internet celebrities such as Jake Paul, Charles Melton, Desmond Napoles, Rola, and Patrick Starr as they discuss what Link did as it ends up being a farce as it play into the lack of accountability in these celebrities and their disconnection with the real world but also Link’s own contradictions. Even as it climaxes for this big livestream event that Frankie is to take part in but she begins to question her role as well as her own moral conundrum as she realizes that Jake’s suspicions on Link are founded but also wonder who Link really is. Overall, Coppola crafts a compelling and witty film about an aspiring filmmaker’s meeting with a mysterious man and his views on the world of social media.

Cinematographer Autumn Cheyenne Durald does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its colorful usage of lights for many of the interiors including some of the studio sets for Link’s show as well as some natural lighting for many of the film’s exterior scenes. Editor Glen Scantlebury does excellent work with the editing as it is stylish for some of the montage sequences as well as some straight cuts to play into the humor and drama. Production designer Nathan Parker, with set decorator Taylor Jean and art director Mars Feehery, does amazing work with the set design from the look of the sets for Link’s shows including its finale as well as the nightclub where Frankie and Jake worked at. Costume designer Jacqui Getty does fantastic work with the costumes as it has some style in the clothes that Frankie wears as well as some of the outlandish clothes that Link would wear throughout the film.

Hair/makeup designers Ange Bebbington and Gina Monaci do terrific work with some of the makeup including the hairstyle of Link as he would become more glamorous as the film progresses. The visual effects work of Alastar Arnold, with animation work by Justin Hantz, is superb for some of the film’s minimal effects including some of the animation that is often used for phone apps. Sound editor Peter Horner and sound designer Dennis Leonard do incredible work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as some sound effects that play into the zaniness of Link’s show. The film’s music by Devonte Hynes is wonderful for its mixture of throbbing and soothing electronic music with bits of R&B and hip-hop elements that play into the world of Los Angeles while music supervisor Rob Lowry creates a soundtrack that mixes an array of music that features pieces from Earl Sweatshop, Kirin J. Callinan, Lansing-Dreiden, Nat Wolff, Kiki Gyan, Grimes, King Princess, and the duo Fiora Cutler and Eldad Guetta.

The casting by Chelsea Ellis Bloch and Marisol Roncali do marvelous work with the film’s ensemble cast as it feature appearances from real-life internet celebrities such as Jake Paul, Juanpa Zurita, Rola, Desmond Napoles, Patrick Starr, and Charles Melton as themselves plus costume designer Jacqui Getty as Frankie and Jake’s boss, Pascale Coppola as a young girl Link watches early in the film, Colleen Camp and Marshall Bell as a couple of performers at the nightclub, Casey Frey as a contestant at Link’s show, and Nathalie Love as a Christian influencer whom Link argues with over her work. Johnny Knoxville is superb as an internet celebrity who hosts a roundtable who was once an idol of Link until Link becomes confrontational. Alexa Demie is fantastic as Isabelle as a young woman who is a guest at Link’s show where she becomes a victim of his bullying in showing her real face. Jason Schwartzman is excellent as Mark Schwartz as a talent agent who helps Link, Frankie, and Jake with their project as he is also eager to make lots of money no matter how controversial Link is.

Nat Wolff is brilliant as Jake as an aspiring musician who has feelings for Frankie as he helps her and Link out in creating their ideas while he also feels like there’s some things need to be said as he gets pushed out by Link that only adds Jake’s suspicions on who Link really is. Maya Hawke is amazing as Frankie Cabot as a young filmmaker that is just trying to find herself as she discovers Link in the hope they can create something cool where Hawke has this exuberance but also someone who has morals as she ponders what she had helped create. Finally, there’s Andrew Garfield in a phenomenal performance as Link as this man living off the grid with a sense of disdain for social media as he becomes this eccentric yet vibrant figure that challenges people while isn’t afraid to be grotesque nor confrontational. It is a performance where Garfield does a lot of outrageous things yet seems to have fun playing a character that ends up being an absolutely disgusting person who doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of him as it is a quintessential performance from Garfield.

Mainstream is a remarkable film from Gia Coppola that features a tremendous leading performance from Andrew Garfield. Along with top-notch performances from Maya Hawke and Nat Wolff, its commentary of social media and internet culture, colorful visuals, and a hypnotic music soundtrack. The film is a witty yet intense take on the world of internet celebrity culture and how someone is willing to confront that world and take it too far with a young woman realizing the trouble she has created. In the end, Mainstream is a marvelous film from Gia Coppola.

Palo Alto

© thevoid99 2022


ruth said...

Somehow I missed this one completely. I'm gonna see if I can stream this as I love Andrew Garfield. Wow the filmmaking talent sure runs in the Coppola family!

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-This is a polarizing film but I enjoyed it as it definitely play into the absurdity of social media and mainstream internet culture. I really enjoyed this and Andrew Garfield is just phenomenal in this.