Tick, Tick…Boom became a Netflix hit, even garnering itself two Oscar nominations and much praise from its audience. This is hardly a surprise to anyone because of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant lyricism and Andrew Garfield’s flawless performance and dedication to the part. But another, lesser known performance by Garfield needs a bit more love and attention. Mainstream, premiering at the Venice Film Festival in 2020, starring Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke and Nat Wolff; a cautionary story about the parasitic dependency on technology and the repercussions that come with fame as well as facing the consequences of our own actions.
The story follows Frankie (Maya Hawke), a bartender struggling to survive in Los Angeles. Like many people in L.A, she wants to make art and make it big doing what she loves the most. Struggling with her YouTube channel, she meets Link, a strange but unique individual who jumps from job to job while living off the grid. She films him rant about being anti social media and uploads it to her channel where it becomes her most popular video. From there she, Link and her friend Jake create the persona “No One Special”, in which Link plays a satirical version of a loud, narcissistic and offensive social media influencer. The trio quickly find internet fame but not before the fame starts to mess with Link’s head. He finds that he’s not the only thing stepping forward into the spotlight as truths are revealed about his past.
Let’s start with Garfield’s performance. As always, he’s flawless. He makes everything look effortless, whether that be the delivery of his lines or the way he moves, he’s magnetic and magical. There’s also a very calculated feel to him as well. Every move he makes, every line he says is calculated yet effortlessly effortless. His ability to change moods so quickly is jaw dropping; one moment his character behaving rationally, and the next he’s unhinged, and Andrew plays unhinged very convincingly. His character starts off as quirky and different from everyone else but as the film progresses and he becomes more famous, that quirkiness starts to wear off and he turns unbearably obnoxious. The irony of playing a character who’s against social media but then thrives on the attention he receives once he becomes a part of the spotlight isn’t lost on Garfield as he interprets what the stereotypical influencer is to a T. A huge turn around from Marvel’s Peter Parker, it’s incredible how Garfield is able to reach down into the depths of his soul and pull out this mind boggling character and showcase him on screen in a way that viewers can either relate to or recognize from society’s mainstream media.
Though the film can be seen as a satirical view of popular media influencers, it’s also a lesson about having to “face the music” and deal with the consequences of our own actions regardless of how famous we are. It’s been witnessed on many social media platforms in the past; influencers mucking up and having to make apology videos for their mistakes, then seemingly moving on as if nothing happened in the first place. Majority of the time it’s all for clicks and press, and most of them don’t even learn from their mistakes as they continue to make the same ones over and over again. Do they care? Probably not. Any press is good press and they know that a large portion of their followers will stick with them regardless of how many mistakes they make. Some do learn, however, but that mistake simply doesn’t go away with a sorry. Mistakes like the one Link makes in the film isn’t something one can just apologize for and move on. It’s a career changing, possibly career ending moment that feels impossible to come back from. For non famous people, it would be. For the famous, they feel untouchable. Link feels untouchable as he makes his speech at the end of the film while expecting everyone to turn on and hate him. Mistakes have consequences, regardless of your follower count. And everyone should be held accountable for their own actions at the end of the day.
Despite this film being a mood rollercoaster, it was very interesting to watch and will get your mind gears going at the end. Thought provoking and full of phenomenal performances, Mainstream is a film that shouldn’t be missed.
You can check out Mainstream on Netflix now, depending on where you live as well as Amazon Prime.