Review of the Social Network
It’s a rare occurrence, but once in a while a film will come along at just the right moment and change the way we see ourselves and the world around us. “The Social Network” is just such a film. While grossing nearly $27 million its opening weekend in box office, I can already see Oscar written all over this film. When I went into this film I was expecting it to be good, but I left the theater floating on cloud nine. Throughout the entire two hour span of which I was in my seat; I laughed, clapped, cheered long before the end credits even rolled. The best part is that the two hundred or so other members of the audience around me reacted in the same way. “The Social Network” is directed by film auteur David Fincher who is most notably known for his cult classics “Fight Club” and my personal favorite “Se7en”. Recently Fincher is responsible for directing “Zodiac” and was recognized by the Academy for his film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, which was nominated for 13 Academy awards and went home with five. “The Social Network” however is a masterful stroke in Fincher’s already admirable repertoire of fine filmmaking. “The Social Network” is amazingly scripted from beginning to end, and the story is absolutely riveting.
“The Social Network” tells the story of the founding of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg; but by the end, the film isn’t even truly about Facebook anymore but about the unforgiving nature of the social struggle that led to its birth. “The Social Network” is embedded with a few stars and several other familiar faces. Actors Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield give top-notch performances in their leading roles as Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. Justin Timberlake who portrays Sean Parker plays the role of Devil’s Advocate very well. The film begins in fall of 2003. Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg), a Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius, returns from a rough breakup with his girlfriend and sits down at his computer and heatedly begins blogging about her for the entire college to read. He then proceeds to create a degrading website designed to rate women on their attractiveness. Naturally he gets caught and is called into question, instantly becoming well known on campus; but being well known isn’t always the same as being cast in a positive light. Zuckerberg is eventually approached by a group of super-WASP Harvard crew upperclassmen, The Winklevoss Twins (Armie Hammer & Josh Pence). Hammer’s face and voice were superimposed digitally onto Pence’s body. The twins come up with an idea to create a new medium for social interaction between Harvard students. Zuckerberg agrees to help them, but after months of work he goes online in 2004 with “The Facebook.” In quick succession Zuckerberg and Saverin get caught up in the whirlwind of business affairs and once Sean Parker (Timberlake) comes onto the scene, everything changes.
So as to not go into detail about too much of the plot, to save time we’ll say that what begins in a fury of blogging and programming then escalates into two major lawsuits. When resolved we are left with what we’ve come to know and love; some of us even depend, “Facebook.” What began in Zuckerberg’s dorm room as a common college networking site soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in online interaction and communication. After a mere six years and 500 million users later, Mark Zuckerberg becomes the youngest billionaire in history. The irony of the movie is that even if you can turn “friend” into a verb, it doesn’t mean making them gets easier. “The Social Network” runs amuck with greed, hate, and a Sid and Nancy helpings worth of backstabbing. The real question here is whether audiences will find the ability to sympathize with the main character after all is said and done. That’s the hope at any rate, but nobody says you have to. “The Social Network” is a film that by mere structure shouldn’t work and by premise may not even interest people. It’s talky and brainy. The entire film is basically one big line of scenes of people talking to each other in technical business/computing jargon, and the convoluted positioning of scenes might seem confusing, maybe even boring for some. Never fear, if you can pull yourself through, you’ll be fine within the first 10 minutes. Personally I didn’t find this film to be a chore and what starts out as a fast paced and engaging story unfolds into a thought provoking and vital parable for our generation. “The Social Network” is a film that will define our generation.
The tagline of the film is, “You Don’t Get to 500 Million Friends without Making A Few Enemies.” I have to say that I agree with this statement whole heartedly. The title “The Social Network” is surely meant to be ironic and at the same time paradoxical. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and Director David Fincher have masterfully brought viewers along on an infectiously giddy and sharp tongued journey of self-discovery and invention, but they also manage to infuse the story of Mark Zuckerberg with a sense of meaning beyond his own achievements, struggles and flaws. Over the years I’ve become well-versed in the style of David Fincher’s directing and here he uses every ounce of his talent to grab you and hold you tight in your seat until the final spoken word. Mark Zuckerberg may not be a larger than life character like Johnny Cash or Eminem, but his story is still important and thanks to this amazingly crafted film, his onscreen portrayal gets to impart truths upon us that always will be and that will live forever in the ink of the internet and the celluloid of cinema.
5 out of 5 stars
Recommendations: “Citizen Kane”, “All the Presidents Men”, “The Insider”.