Non-Fiction ★★★★

Several decades into the digital revolution, there’s still a twinge of discomfort whenever new work from a major auteur dares to invoke the internet. Even worse: when it does so by name. Facebook. YouTube. Snapchat. Such vulgar things become virtually unavoidable in any movie that’s about the modern world, but the transience of social media remains hard to reconcile with the timelessness of great cinema. It’s the residue of a cannon that’s loaded with dead men and often pointing backward, the legacy of a pantheon that tends to regard modernity as more of an existential threat than a tool at its disposal.

It’s also why Olivier Assayas’ sly and delightful “Non-Fiction” (née “E-book”) feels like such a lark at first — like a master filmmaker clearing his throat between more significant projects. That’s exactly what Assayas wants you to think.

It’s one thing when the plot of an indie debut hinges on Instagram, or when the millennial protagonist of a rom-com is revealed to drive an Uber. However, it might cause some pretty serious cognitive dissonance if a Lucretia Martel character shared a meme, or if someone in a Terrence Malick tone poem stopped to check their DMs — hell, it was disorienting enough when “To the Wonder” sent Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko twirling through a Sonic Drive-In. People still can’t believe that David Fincher directed an entire movie about Facebook, or that he managed to endow it with the gravitas of a classic.

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