Mainstream is a 2020 American comedy-drama film directed by Gia Coppola, from a screenplay by Coppola and Tom Stuart. It stars Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, Nat Wolff, Johnny Knoxville and Jason Schwartzman.
It had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5, 2020. It was released on May 7, 2021, by IFC Films.
Frankie (Maya Hawke) is a young, aimless woman living in West Hollywood. Despite dropping out of school to pursue her dreams of making art, she is working a thankless job bartending with her friend Jake (Nat Wolff) and has no clear vision of her goals other than a struggling YouTube channel. One day she encounters Link (Andrew Garfield), an eccentric young man working as a costumed mascot in a mall. While filming her surroundings, Maya records a rambling but passionate monologue from Link, which quickly becomes her most popular video. Maya later encounters Link by chance and befriends him. The often-manic Link claims that his parents are dead and that he is firmly anti-establishment and anti-social media.
After Link rescues Frankie from a humiliating onstage act at her job, Frankie quits to create art with him, recruiting Jake to help. Together, the team makes a channel called “No One Special” starring Link as a satire of a stereotypical loud, offensive, narcissistic social media influencer. The show becomes a massive hit, and the channel eventually evolves into a game show format hosted by Link. Meanwhile, at a late-night party hosted at a graveyard, Jake privately witnesses Link arguing with someone who claims to be his brother, but does not bring it up to Frankie as she has entered a romantic relationship with Link. Frankie reveals to Link that her father died in a car accident, for which she blames herself.
The relationship between the trio begins to deteriorate as the show becomes more famous and backed by YouTube, and is criticized as selling out. Link starts to become his own egotistical persona, Jake is frustrated as his ideas are increasingly cut, and Frankie loses sight of her passion for art as she begins to make cold business decisions as recommended by their cutthroat manager. The tension comes to a head when Link humiliates a young woman, Isabelle, on the show by revealing that she edits a facial birthmark out of her selfies; under his pressure, she agrees to release her unedited photos for the game show prize but breaks down in tears, for which he aggressively admonishes her. Upset at what the show has become, Jake quits. Link is then invited to be on a roundtable with several other internet celebrities, but when he is accused by the host of hypocrisy and confronted with the unedited footage of Link’s humiliation of Isabelle, Link rants against the other participants, claims Isabelle tried to seduce him, and is thrown out for pretending to defecate onstage.
Disillusioned, Frankie visits Jake at their old workplace and tries to bring him back into the fold, but Jake refuses and reveals he has done research on Link and found out that he is a liar: he is actually a son of rich parents (who are both alive) and that he is dangerous and unstable, having once been institutionalized for burning down his school. When Jake confesses that he himself is in love with Frankie, she leaves and returns home in a daze. Link arrives and announces that YouTube has invited him to head a livestream event, and that he wants to do it with her, and she accepts.
While setting up for the livestream, Frankie learns that Isabelle died by suicide due to the humiliation of her appearance and Link’s accusations. When Link is more concerned about his public image than her death, Frankie reveals she knows the truth about him and storms out. During the livestream, which includes a memorial for Isabelle, Link gives his condolences but then veers off-script into a manic, vulgar monologue, refusing to accept blame for her death and instead ranting against the toxicity of social media and its oppressive hold over its audience. In a demonstration of honesty, Link reveals his name is actually Alex Goodrich and invites the audience to support them only if they’re willing to rebel against the mainstream. As he departs the stage, expecting boos, the gathered crowd instead applauds and starts chanting his name, making him smile.
Maya Hawke as Frankie
Andrew Garfield as Link
Nat Wolff as Jake
Jason Schwartzman as Mark Schwartz
Alexa Demie as Isabelle Roberts
Johnny Knoxville as Ted Wick
Colleen Camp as Judy
Jacqui Getty as Lisa
Nick Darmstaedter as Kyler
Marshall Bell as Marty
Juanpa Zurita as Juanpa
Adam Barnhart as Officer Adam
Trevor White as Ben
Casey Frey as Martin
Charles Melton as himself
Jake Paul as himself
Patrick Starr as himself