Connect with us

Movie Reviews

Mainstream ★★★★



Director: Gia Coppola

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, Nat Wolff, Johnny Knoxville and Jason Schwarzman

Released: May 7th 2021 (In Cinemas & On Demand in the USA)

Social Media is a beast like no other. It can uplift you or make you feel so insignificant. Within cinema, this realm has been investigated quite a bit in recent year with the likes of Ingrid Goes West, Searching, Eighth Grade. When we gaze through the shining lights of our phone screens, we daydream into a pit that inspires us or may potentially harm us. Gia Coppola’s latest film, Mainstream, is the newest film to look into this world.

This is Coppola’s Sophmore film after her critically acclaimed work Palo Alto in 2013. Mainstream follows a young woman called Frankie (Maya Hawke) who thinks she’s found a path to internet stardom. She has started making YouTube videos with the charismatic Link (Andrew Garfield) – until the dark side of viral celebrity threatens to ruin them both.

Mainstream explores our deep obsession with social media and how we lose ourselves within the void of the web. To become an online enigma is to lose your morals for some people, and Coppola takes you deep down that rabbit hole. She utilises the classic narrative of a protagonist not knowing their place in the world and layers it in an unforgettable, darkly humoured satire. Frankie represents the many souls that want to achieve fame through the powers of social media. Her voice represents the thousands of hours of content that will never get the attention it deserves. Coppola’s focus on the obscenities of the medium is where it shines as she asks how far you would go for fame?

Drenched within a multitude of Instagram-esk filter, Mainstream’s absurdity is enhanced through this processed lens, but the ludicrousness of Andrew Garfield’s performance is the main reason you stay for the ride. The post-Spider-Man era of Garfield has been an experimental one that has been a joy to watch. Link is another character Garfield submerges himself into the role with great ease and ferocity. His gaze gives you a pompous sense of reality and smugness that he is better than you (like most big influencers). He was designed to be loathed and loved, and his chemistry with Hawke further sells Coppola’s tale.

Maya Hawke’s approach with Frankie is candidly naïve, but as her confidence grows, the journey becomes savagely fierce and takes no prisoners. Mainstream is bound to have its critics due to the path Coppola takes with her film. In many ways, it almost feels like a metaphor for the content online; some will love, and some will hate it. The added layers within this intensely vain tale are the pursuit of being loved in the modern age. As this tale weaves itself into a frenzy, Coppola etches the fact we should love ourselves before seeking the love of others. This sense of fictitious relationships are easily conjured within the modern era, and Coppola gives it a lot more substance and empathy.

Within its paradoxical narrative, Mainstream thrives on building an absurdist world that almost feels like our own. Coppola’s dissection allows you to step back and witness the extremities of the social media boom. As stated, this is a chalk and cheese experience that will push the boundaries for some but for any willing soul who accepts the premise; it will be an eye-opening satirical observational piece about the world today.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

Just For You