The Social Network Review

October 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm (Movies)

There’s a scene towards the end of The Social Network where Mark Zuckerburg and his best friend Eduardo Saverin are standing in an enormous office space reserved for the biggest of businessmen, looking out at their multi-billion dollar industry created from sheer spite. Eduardo sits in front of the camera for a moment, leans over to Mark and whispers “Can you believe that this all started from the algorithm I wrote on the window in your dorm?” While this momentary piece of dialogue only serves to give the viewer the same kind of retrospect Zuckerburg’s feeling, I immediately flash-backed to that scene, and remembered it was only 20 minutes into the film. Now although it only had been an hour and a half ago for me, I had been completely convinced by Fincher and the rest of his crew that I had witnessed this entire modern-day fairy tale of business and corruption, and I had enjoyed every minute of it. That’s something hard to say about a lot of films. The Social Network is a powerhouse of a film; comprised of so much talent it might just spoil you from regular movies. The film takes us all the way back to the year 2003, where the smug yet brilliant Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenburg) lights the match on an explosive tech race by creating a website to rate the hotness of women at his college. The site blows up in popularity over night, and after reluctantly agreeing to help the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer) with a “Harvard Edition of MySpace”, he sets off on the next evolution of the social network, what we know now as “Facebook”. Tempers flare along the way and decisions are made that lead up to two separate multi-million dollar lawsuit between Zuckerburg and the Winklevoss Twins, along with Zuckerburg and his former best friend Eduardo Saverin. The film expertly cuts back and forth between the trials and the actual events leading up to them. There’s a ton in the film that’s done so well it makes it seem like Fincher’s been making films since he was in the womb, but part of what makes the film so flipping great is the group of people in front of the camera. Jessie Eisenburg leads the way through most of the film and perfects Zuckerberg’s jerk-ish nature, obsessive tendencies and acute paranoia. Although the jerk-ish nature of Eisenburg’s character can make it hard for an audience to connect, it’s easy to see his human nature throughout the film. He’s making decisions that he knows full in well are destroying his humanity and relationships, but at the same time helping him and his own company, and by the end of the film what you see is a shell of a man, an isolation of a human soul, and it’s pretty astonishing to see that character written in such a superb way. Come around early March, Eisenburg has a good chance of joining the elite ranks of some of the youngest men honored with the coveted award for Best Actor. Armie Hammer rules every scene he’s in by playing BOTH of the Winklevoss twins, and his spectacular job at playing both of the twins interacting with eachother and at times even arguing with eachother is so subtle you won’t even notice it. Brenda Song of Disney Channel fame does a fine job in a couple of scenes as Eduardo’s psycho girlfriend. I didn’t know they trained their actors so well over at Disney, if the trend continues we can look forward to a spectacular Cole Sprouse cancer comedy. Justin Timberlake, who comes in around the half-way mark, does a great job at playing the sleaze-bag of the movie, and Rooney Mara, although she only has two scenes in the film, is completely deserving of the praise being heaped upon her. The real star of the film though thankfully is Andrew Garfield, also known as the future Peter Parker for Webb’s 2012 adaptation. The guy oozes charisma and an awesome sense of confidence that could be the most believable part of the film, and definitely put my doubts to rest that this up-and-comer may just be getting some Academy recognition for one of his first roles. Just like Edward Norton and Brad Pitt walked in their paces before them, every scene that’s written so well in The Social Network is made that much better for having a fine crew of talented actors and actresses executing the lines. If that’s not enough, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame does the spectacular score for the film, and it easily stands as one of the best of the year. I won’t delve too far into the tracks themselves, but Reznor and the editing crew definitely have a good sense of where certain tracks have just the right feeling for the scene. It’s a score not easily forgotten, and there are particular scenes that won’t let you forget it with pounding bass hits and infectious melodies.

I was a big fan of Fight Club whenever I got to see it earlier this year, and while I wasn’t as big a fan of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it’s undeniable that the guy has a serious knack for telling great stories. When I first heard the concept of making a film about the Facebook, I immediately assumed it was just going to be a quick cash grab. That might have been the case had another team taken on the job, but Fincher and his expert writer Aaron Sorkin craft an impeccable narrative. They take what could have been a mess of a story about what could have been a boring “fable”, and mold it into one of the year’s best stories that will leave you wondering around every turn what’s about to happen and how we end up in that trial room. “Why does Eduardo hate Mark so much?” “Why is Mark so bitter towards, well, everyone!” “What’s up with that one Winklevoss’ haircut?”-MOST of those questions are given slowly but surely by Fincher and Sorkin, slowly pulling the rope and leading you farther and farther in. It’s sort of hard to spoil a movie about the fate of the website I currently have in another tab (spoiler alert Facebook exists), and I’m not even going to attempt to or even try to encapsulate all the great themes of the film. While Fincher’s film iterates the way our film looks at social situations in an age of blackberries and iPhones instead of written mail and actually talking on the phone, it’s themes are timeless. Isolation, betrayal, love, anxiety, the greater good, the fear of failure, the euphoria of success and how it can all come crumbling down are all themes effortlessly snatched up and put on display for the cinematic world to see within a two hour running time. The film gracefully transitions between the trials and the events that led up to them, and by the end of the film you’ve gotten this majestic sense of time to where you feel like you know the complete, tragic story, and you’re not even ready to leave the theater. While some may not consider the idea of a “Facebook movie” to be all that interesting, the end result surprisingly came out to be one of the most compelling, if not always factual, film events of the year, getting to see a master of storytelling tell a masterful story. Sure, it may not be all that accurate, and to be honest, I don’t care. A good movie’s a good movie, and they’re still telling the same story, even if some things are a little Hollywood-ized, although to tell the truth the film’s not as fictionalized as some make it out to be. When it came down to it it’s really a beautiful mold of a classic story within a new frontier, it’s like a cinematic hybrid. It’s the quirk of Juno meets the intrigue of The Bourne Identity, the board room fights of A Few Good Men but over intellectual property. Some have compared the film to classics like Citizen Kane, and to be honest they’re not far off. This is going to be a film that’s remembered for quite some time, and I’d be shocked if it didn’t win Best Picture come March. It also doesn’t hurt that Fincher has the time to put in some style for good measure. There’s a good bit of really effective comedy that works really well when the dialogue of hundreds of millions of dollars lawsuits isn’t rambling on, and the fact that Fincher paints a lot of the film in a gray-ish, bland tone is understated but is still effective. In my American Literature course I’m enrolled in now there’s a term we’ve been discussing, and it refers to when an author brings the finale of the film to reference all the film itself in a seemingly perfect way that “wraps up” the movie into a nice little package. Forrest Gump did this with the feather, The Princess Bride did it with the grandfather’s final line of dialogue, and Fincher does it in this film with an ending that leaves some glimmer of hope in a pretty desolate scenario. The Social Network is a magnificent movie. It speaks to our generation by not only giving a “origin story” to one of the biggest facets of our day-to-day life, but by also delving into some of the problems that people my age deal with. “How do I fit in?”, “Where am I supposed to do with my life?”, “How do I get people to like me and not ruin every single close relationship I have?” It doesn’t stop there, and that’s what sets it apart, it still combines that with an incredible cast and some true filmmaking genius. Don’t listen to my words though (he said at the end of the review), just go see this film. Even if you hate the actors, the director, whatever, see it for the commentary it has for society. If you hate society, see it for the film-making. It’s a complete package. I don’t say this very often, but there’s nothing much wrong with this movie, unless you’re going in not a fan of the idea of a Facebook movie and you also just so happen to be a person that doesn’t like good film. The Social Network is going to be a tough act to beat for the rest of the Fall, it’s an unforgettable masterpiece of film-making genius that is going to be on many people’s minds, and hopefully a lot of people’s Twitter feeds for quite some time.

5 out of 5

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2 Comments

  1. kri & lo said,

    Hi,nice review! we have a question: we would like to know what where the two packets with the facebook logo that the secretary brought to Mark’s desk at the end of the movie! Thanks!

  2. earlman27 said,

    Hey, thanks a lot! Its been a while since I’ve seen the film, but I think I remember pretty clearly. I’m not sure if it’s really told in the film, but from what I understood it might have been implied that they had something to do with the two separate trials (maybe the settlement agreements or what not). Or it may have been nothing really important but was just giving a visual cue to Mark’s “ownership” of the company in that it was what he wanted all along, but was still a very isolated man. Thanks again!

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