This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
FreeSir’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Trapped inside the postmodern dialectical prison of "being a man" and "being nice", nice guy Jake is sitting in a bar, on trivia night, staring over at a beautiful girl, unable to speak to her.
That is the Present behind the story. The movie is literally a road movie through his psyche(constantly evolving in a stream of consciousness style).
That is, its his fantasy combined with his fears and desires. For example we get to see his fears of her finding out, that he is just a janitor and he is deeply ashamed of that. Also we see his fear of her being smarter than him and of him telling her his true feelings.
So what we have here is a man with a crushed confidence, anxious of getting rejected, but also of not getting rejected, but then being found out to being a loser (or a pervert). But despite having no confindence in himself, he does think of himself as a smart guy, even as talented. However, these feeling only go so far as in him thinking he is probably smarter than other people, which puts him in this dialectic of inner arrogance and outer humbleness, which consequently leads to insincerity.
In reality, most people actually think their intelligence is "slightly above average", so I think Kaufman really intended to show an modern average person here.
Kaufman further critisizes the postmodern live with sheer endless references to various fragments of our mediated reality (by which I mean literally everything that makes up our reality in the western world). He uses the title "A Woman Under the Influence" to say that literally. Not only is she under the Influence of his imagination, but also of the cultural fragments through which she speaks. This is also eluded to through the Oscar Wilde quote.
We also see that icecream commercial (another fragment), getting contrasted with the actual product, which is trash.
Also notice how getting to the store cuts off his thoughts, which where too close to being really insightful und therefore would have hurt (remember how this is all in his head!). We do cut off our unpleseant thoughts all the time.
So in the end we see his desires in the form of being successful and loved (by his former schoolmates, pseudogirlfriend and family in bad old people make up (nice touch!)) getting contrasted with his "enlightenment". That is, he recongnizes himself (as being just a finite animal) and the world as One, as said through some quote.
I didn't really get more out of the ending than this vague esoteric notion unfortunatly, but there is probably more to it to be fair. Maybe its a joke, as the vague esoteric resoltuion isn't really an answer either.
I'm glad this movie exists. However, I think in its analsys of our times it
neglects the roots of these problems (which is mostly our economical system (sorry capitalists!)) and instead just chooses to show us the symptoms.