There is no doubt that The Coppola family gene is infused with above-normal talent. Gia Coppola’s sophomore effort as director, “Mainstream,” doesn’t reach the deeper level of her first film (2013’s “Palo Alto”) but she and co-writer Tom Stuart’s screenplay has a lot to say.
Frankie (Maya Hawke) is a young woman on a journey to find herself in an artificial world. She works in a dive that features an even shittier cabaret show (performed by Coppola family films mainstay Colleen Camp). She is far from happy in her work.
Hiding a facial scar with her straight hair Frankie is searching for her voice while seeking acceptance through internet fame, bemoaning the fact that she only gets one hundred views or less.
The theme of Coppola’s film comes through strongly when Frankie is asked, “Do you want to make art or do you want to chase affirmation from faceless strangers?”
This is the world in which the younger generations exist, Coppola rightly proposing that it is killing artistic integrity and, most importantly, honesty.
Katrina meets Link (Andrew Garfield), a rebel against everything, but he could be just a madman in the guise of a savior.
Link is the kind of character that has been done before. Neither the script nor Garfield bring anything new to it. The actor seems to be working too hard at his character’s wild abandon and occasionally makes Link’s presence appear—underwhelmingly so.
“Frankie has a good friend from work, Jake (Nat Wolff) and the two teeter on a romance.” After she quits (at the urging of Link), the two partner to create internet videos featuring Link who goes under the name “No One Special”.
Wolff has some good moments, as he becomes Frankie’s only connection to reality as she begins to drown in Link’s fallacious world views. Wolff proves himself a smart actor who underplays nicely.
Jason Schwartzman has a supporting role as a producer who gives Link his own online platform, making his alter ego an even bigger star through his own variety show, where Link’s true, ugly, self is revealed. The actor is funny and fast and representative of many older producers who think they are in tune with the young ones.
The rise and fall story tropes notwithstanding Coppola’s well-constructed screenplay and her directing savvy helps the movie stay on message.
Gia Coppola’s film hits today’s media obsessed Generation Z where it hurts. She takes on the followers of internet influencers and argues that people who are between their teens and late twenties are lost in a vacuum of vanity and false rhetoric from phony people.
Reality just isn’t real anymore.
“Mainstream” is smart social-media satire and an important mirror image of the sickness of internet celebrity and self-importance that has taken hold of our younger generations.