The Social Network
Would you be interested in seeing a movie about the making of Facebook? If on paper it seems like a dull and uninteresting movie, I don’t blame you. But with the masterful direction of David Fincher and a superb script by Aaron Sorkin, ‘The Social Network’ is not only one of the finest films of [...]
Would you be interested in seeing a movie about the making of Facebook? If on paper it seems like a dull and uninteresting movie, I don’t blame you. But with the masterful direction of David Fincher and a superb script by Aaron Sorkin, ‘The Social Network’ is not only one of the finest films of the year, it immortalizes our whole generation in a film about friendship, betrayal and need for power.
In the fall of 2003 at Harvard University, a young student named Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) sits down at his computer to work on a new idea after a messy breakup. Gaining funding from his best friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield), he begins work on a social networking site for college students known as Facebook. But what starts out as something exclusive to certain colleges quickly skyrockets into a major phenomenon leading Zuckerberg to meet influential people like Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). But just as when things begin to get appear, Mark is hit by lawsuits claiming theft of the idea and a major betrayal.
If there was ever an example of taking a non-cinematic subject matter and turning it over its head, it’s ‘The Social Network’. Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant script is not only a tightly woven narrative about the making of one of the biggest sites in the world, it’s also a deep character study of the youngest billionaire in the world. Top that off with David Fincher’s moody direction and inituitive camerawork and you get a classic film that not only is a major frontrunner for the Oscars but is a timeless movie despite what the subject matter might lead you to believe.
The movie starts off with a wordy and quick breakup scene that throws one smart dialogue after another at you. Shortly after that, Mark Zuckerberg enters his dorm room and starts swiftly brainstorming ideas for a revolutionary website. We as the audience actually feel like a part of the whole scheme as Zuckerberg carefully narrates and details every part of his grand plan and how it would end up working. The movie soon jumps into a very clever narrative structure. Instead of being a linear narrative, the movie is actually told in flashbacks stemming from a courtroom scene where the defendant and the plaintiffs are accusing each other and telling their part of the story. We then cut to the appropriate part of the story and this device not only adds a lot of dramatic tension and foreboding to the whole film, it also ends up being a smart way to tie it all up.
If the movie would be just about the making of Facebook, it would lose momentum after a specific point. And that’s another thing in which ‘The Social Network’ excels. The movie gives us insight into the elite clubs of Harvard and how important a sense of belonging is in the dark underbellies of the prestigious university. It brings up themes of the value of friendship and how the need for complete power has the ability to destroy entire relationships. Greed and betrayal end up being major themes in the film and are handled brilliantly. Even though the audience already has full knowledge of how big their new creation will become, the film wrings so much tension and anticipation out of the situation that we feel shivers as the site grows larger and larger and the repercussions gradually take place.
But apart from being a story about the founding of Facebook, ‘The Social Network’ is in equal parts an in-depth character study of Mark Zuckerberg. Here’s a geeky student that not only harbors some very commercial ideas and boasts genius quick thinking, he’s also a shrewd businessman. He doesn’t smile, doesn’t talk more than is required, and is a mysterious figure for the most part as we are never able to read what’s going on in his mind. Yet when need be, he doesn’t hesitate once to step over his friends an d cross serious ethical boundaries in the interest of the website. It’s truly a fascinating character made much more fascinating by the tremendous portrayal by Jesse Eisenberg. There is literally no other actor that could play the part as Eisenberg embodies every aspect of Zuckerberg and brings his own sense of charm to the role – one of the most perfectly cast characters ever.
And the brilliant casting doesn’t stop here. Andrew Garfield is the highlight of the movie playing Zuckerberg’s best friend Eduardo Saverin with such calm and finess that if he brings only a fraction of this talent to his Peter Parker role in ‘Spider-Man’, it’s going to be a great movie. Justin Timberlake gives an exceptionally powerful performance as billionaire Sean Parker of Napster fame and steals the show in the amount of scenes he’s in. Rooney Mara is great in her limited role while Arnie Hammer plays twins to such a brilliant note that you would never realize it’s the same person on screen. Kudos to David Fincher for getting outstanding performances out of ordinary young actors.
The ending, although somewhat abrupt, is a perfect for the theme of the movie – the guy who allowed people to make millions of friends through his website has none himself. It’s a biting commentary on the effect of social networking and the impact it has on our current generation. This is why ‘The Social Network’ isn’t just a great movie, it’s one that perfectly captures our current world on film in the most realistic possible fashion. For a movie that everyone intially lambasted for being a cash-grab, that’s a monumental feat. Special mention goes to Trent Reznor’s haunting soundtrack for the movie that plays with the dark theme perfectly and adds a lot to an already great film.
Do yourself a favor and watch ‘The Social Network’ this weekend. Whether you’re looking for a thriller or a quality drama or just a comedy with serious elements, the movie actually appeals to pretty much all kinds of audiences despite being very smart and thoughtful. Forgive the eventual pun, but ‘The Social Network’ is a movie you shouldn’t hesitate to log into.
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