THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
A film about a computer nerd with dubious social skills who created the internet sensation known as Facebook hardly seems riveting. Believe me it is, and more so.
An exhilarating movie experience, a story told simply and effectively, at once topical and epic in scope.
At the centre of the film is an anti-hero protagonist that is very unlikeable yet he is mesmerizing, no mean feat to pull off.
Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) with assured bravado, and with a fine screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (creator of West Wing) the film delivers on every level.
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a computer nerd attending Harvard University, and in a whiz-bang pre credit scene we see him in conversation with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara), he is being an asshole and she dumps him. This leads to him going back to his dorm pissed off and frustrated. He starts up a site that rates girls in the campus according to their “hotness”. It causes a sensation crashing the Harvard computer system. Of course he is caught and reprimanded, this catches the attention of a couple of elite students who enlist him to help start up a new exclusive social network site. Zuck leads them on and creates his own on the side. With the financial help of his roommate and best friend, Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield) he creates Facebook. The rest is history.
The story unfolds with a flashback structure during a couple of hearings in which he is being sued by both his best friend and the college jocks he deceived. This way we get to see all points of view in the story and I guess prevents litigation against the filmmakers.
Director Fincher draws out excellent performances and avoids bogging the film down with too much computer screen action which could easily have been done. Every now and then he zips up scenes with his usual technical virtuosity but then reverts back to a simple way to tell the tale, this helps enormously to maintain interest and prevent one becoming bored. Aaron Sorkin’s witty screenplay has some great dialogue delivered at a quick pace, rarely seen in a mainstream studio film nowadays.
Back to the performances – Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckenberg has the difficult role of making this tricky character at all watchable, his cold detached look while not giving anything away inside still manages to make you care somehow. English actor Andrew Garfield (soon to be the new Spiderman) is a stand-out as the best friend and the films moral stance. Justin Timberlake as a sleazy Sean Parker- creator of Napster and the Faustian character in the saga proves he has good acting chops. Armie Hammer who plays the dual role of the identical twin jocks (handled with pure technical brilliance) is terrific and Rooney Mara as Erica makes her mark in only a few scenes – she will soon be seen as the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in the American remake to be directed by Fincher. Actually everyone in the cast even down to the smallest of parts do excellent work.
As per usual in a Fincher film technically it is flawless – editing, cinematography, music, design are all first rate.
“The Social Network” is a truly great contemporary movie that grabs you from the first scene and never lets you down till its ending. It is by far the best mainstream movie I have seen this year. It is sure to become a classic in the vein of “All The President’s Men” and other such films of their time.
I must say I will never look at Facebook the same way now that I have a bit of insight (whether true or not) into its creation.
The film is really one that will cause a lot of debate and discussion on many issues just what I like in cinema, another reason why I rate this film highly.
NB. I was a little worried about the misogyny portrayed in the film, but then I had to remind myself that the protagonists are all young men and in context it was necessary to include.