Monday, October 11, 2010

The Social Network - Theatrical Review

You don't get to 500 million friends without making some enemies.

Review Vital Stats:
Theater: AMC 30 at the Block
Time: 5:25 pm - Friday October 8th
Screen Type: Digital

Loves: David Fincher
Likes: True stories
Neutral:  Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake

David Fincher is my hero, this guy has never let me down. When a Fincher movie comes out I do not hesitate to recommend it to everyone and anyone I know. His filmography is nothing short of amazing with such notables as Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac, and more recently The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. If you were to look at his films in the order they were released you would see a common theme which is that with each new film he makes he gets further and further away from the exploitative nature of his past works and gets closer and closer to being considered an A list dramatic director. The Social Network I believe is the end point of that pursuit where he finally has a film that is driven by nothing more than pure dialogue and acting.

Now there isn't really a whole lot to go into as far as plot is concerned for this film. Most everyone out there knows it is an account of what transpired during the creation of the largest social networking site in the world, Facebook. I, like many others, was curious as to how a movie about a website could be done in a way that wouldn't bore the hell out of me. Well, like I said before, director David Fincher should have never been doubted because he and writer Aaron Sorkin have delivered one of the most engrossing films of the year. I am not entirely sure about the legitimacy of the actions depicted here unlike others but I am sure that I like it...a lot.

Meet Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest billionaire in the world.
The story may be well known by this point, at least the basics of it. But the people involved in that story are not and that is where the interesting aspects of The Social Network come into play. You have Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) a Harvard University student that you find out almost immediately is a genius at programming but a total failure when dealing with people. This is shown at the very outset when his very sweet girlfriend dumps him and you see his way of handling this is to begin blogging about his now ex-girlfriends inadequacies while simultaneously creating a website using a programming code from his best friend Eduardo Saverin  (played by Andrew Garfield), where he takes photos of every female college student off every college network he can, puts them up as a sort of "Hot or Not" comparison site called "" and emails it out to everyone he knows.

By doing this (which he did in 4 hours time) his site becomes popular so fast that it eventually crashes the entire Harvard network. This catches the eye or eyes of twin brothers, Harvard elite athletes and basically spoiled rich boys CameronTyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer) as well as Divya Narendra (played by Max Minghella). They have an idea for a social network where all of Harvard's students can keep up with their friends through the Internet and they want Mark to build it for them. It isn't exactly My Space is what they say because this will be locked out to anyone not part of the Harvard alumni. They tell Mark this idea which he then uses to make something even better all the while keeping the twins in the dark thinking he is still working for them.

Eduardo tries to explain his idea on how to monetize Facebook.
There is no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is the brainchild behind Facebook, however he did not create it alone. His main partner in this venture, Eduardo Saverin, is given the title of co-founder due to his financial contributions, whom also provided a certain string of code that Mark used to create the Facemash website. Eduardo is the closet thing Mark has to an actual friend and that friendship becomes a central issue later in the film. Also along for the ride is Dustin Moskovitz (played by Joseph Mazzello) whom his hired on to help with their programming needs. They set up their stakes and what percentages each will have in it and thus Facebook is created.

The film does not have as straight forward a narrative as that sounds though due to how it inter-cuts between Mark Zuckerberg in the middle of two legal battles that arose once Facebook became huge, one with the Winklevoss twins and another with his friend Eduardo, while also showing us how Facebook came together. It all flows flawlessly and as a matter of fact every scene in this film flows with a natural but quick pace. Every single person in this film save for maybe the lawyers talks at a rapid fire pace which is borderline too fast at times. It gives you a good sense as to how smart all these people are but at the same time I don't think anyone can talk that fast and be that clear without missing a beat.

Divya and the Winklevoss twins trying to get a piece of the pie.
In all honesty though that is more of an observation than a complaint because every time someone began to speak I was completely involved with every word that came out of their mouth. Take for instance the Winklevoss twins, both played to perfection by Armie Hammer, when they are talking to each other there is almost a rhythm to how they bounce back and forth to one another that you get the impression they are on the brink of finishing each others sentences. A lot of the credit has to be given to all of the actors here, they were given such rich dialogue and told they must shoot it out as quickly and coherently as possible while still sounding as though they are coming up with this stuff off the top of their heads.

Jesse Eisenberg...I have always put him in the same category as Michael Cera. They both share that same off center sarcastic tone to their rhythm of speech and both actors have either not really tried or have found it hard to get away from those now cliche character types. As I was happy for Michael Cera earlier this past summer, I am now equally as happy for Jesse Eisenberg. He has taken that type-cast character he gets and has turned him into a determined asshole of a genius. A kind of guy that is only a jerk to others because he has no other way to talk to people. As with all misunderstood intellectual masterminds he has no way to relate to others and because of that he makes Facebook where he can meet and talk to people without ever really meeting or talking to them.

Meet the real asshole of the film, Sean Parker.
There has been a lot of talk about how this film will effect the real Mark Zuckerberg's image due to how he is portrayed in it. I have never read the book this film was based off of and Aaron Sorkin has stated that most of which is in the film is based purely off his own experiences. I am not sure what to think of all that but I am sure that I don't think Mark Zuckerberg was such a bad guy as he is depicted in the film. He is kind of a jerk and doesn't know how to socialize with people but he never seems malicious...well maybe a little towards the girl that dumps him at the beginning of the film. I think by the end of the film though you get a good idea that he is a different person, a changed person and changed for the better.

I think that it is funny that so much attention in the media was paid to how Mark Zuckerberg was portrayed where he came out OK in my opinion. I think this is funny because the man behind NapsterSean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) is the guy that gets it really bad in the film. I am unsure what exactly this man is about in real life but I know I think he is the worlds biggest douche bag based solely on how he is portrayed here. He comes into Mark Zuckerberg's and Eduardo Saverin's lives at a key turning point for Facebook and he shakes things up in a good but mostly bad way. Sure, he may be the guy that got Facebook its current status but man did he step on some toes to get it there. I hold no ill will towards the man but he makes Mark seem like a saint.

Mark and Eduardo trying to work things out.
So, what is it exactly that gives this film its spark? I think, like most good films, it is a combination of everything. The book by Ben Mezrich, the tightly written script by Sorkin, the expert direction from Fincher, the casting of which was phenomenal with everyone at the top of their game, the strange yet inspired soundtrack by Trent Reznor and finally the simple story of how a Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, created a simple website that made him the worlds youngest billionaire. Not one element is misused or out of place and it must be said that despite the abundant amount of dialogue (this could easily be a stage play) it moves so fast that the ending almost seems abrupt.

I like this film and judging from the high score on Rotten Tomatoes I believe this could end up being David Fincher's prize production come Oscar time next year. I would have liked to seen him win for Zodiac which I still think is one of the best movies of the past decade, but I will take this as well. It is his first true drama without any whimsical or thriller aspects thrown in and it is a dam good one at that. And just as a side note, if you get the chance I would highly recommend making this a double feature and checking out Catfish afterwards, I am not doing a written review for that film (due to it being sort of unconventional) but it makes a great follow up to this. As far The Social Network is concerned though...



Anonymous said...

Good review! i hope i get the time to check this out!

David Weaver said...

It is really good, go see it now, lol.

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