The Social Network Directed by: David Fincher Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garland, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: October 1, 2010
PLOT: The story behind the creation of social networking website Facebook, and the legal disputes that divided and almost destroyed the billion dollar company.
WHO'S IT FOR? The appeal to this film is not limited to those who worship the work of Zuckerberg on Facebook via wall posts, picture tagging, or even playing Mafia Wars. While users of the site will be shocked to see the story behind Facebook, this is a tale of betrayal and genius with characters that would resonate to anyone who simply loves a great movie.
EXPECTATIONS: With the presence of female characters even in the trailer, it was curious as to how the implementation of women in the story would help or hurt the film, especially since they are nowhere to be seen in the book that this script has adapted. Plus, Eisenberg has shown progressively that he should soon be able to stand beyond cheap Michael Cera comparisons. Was this role going to be somewhat legendary for Hollywood, at least in that sense?
Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg: It’s only fitting for a quasi-genius to be brought to cinematic life by a performance of equal level. Eisenberg takes his duty well beyond that of a simple portrayal when providing the world with its serious unmasking of the internet deity. He presents Zuckerberg as an incredibly tragic figure, a brilliant mind who has programmed himself to deny compassion, and to relentlessly work towards a success that in the very end means very little to the sandal and hoodie wearing geek icon. A scene in which he refuses to accept a hug once Facebook reaches 1,000,000 users is shattering - it's impossible to think the same person would even support "poking" on his website. His mind constantly in his work, he fires out full sentences like an automatic typewriter, sometimes losing control of his brain in heated conversations. While we are uninformed as to any history that would explain why Zuckerberg’s mind is programmed in such a fashion, his presence in the film, along with his desire for acceptance by clubs or girls fascinates us to little end. His face can barely register anything beyond a smirk that sneaks into the side of his mouth, and his cheekbones and eyes emphasize a grave nature to this monstrous robot. With such a monstrous nature Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg like a sort of geek freak condemned to his skill. He is stuck in a state of isolation, no matter who tries to manipulate his vulnerability. Eisenberg’s performance is revelatory, and will stand as one of this year’s best come award season. He has given Gen-Y it's first real horror figure - the Phantom of the Laptop. Score: 10
Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin: As Mark’s “only friend,” Eduardo attempts to maintain a sort of balance while juggling school and work as Facebook’s CFO. Possibly the most normal person of the movie, Eduardo’s personal journey details how evil Zuckerberg and Parker might have been. Garfield throws an excellent temper tantrum in the third act – chills run down your spine when the betrayed says, “Lawyer up, asshole.” Score: 8
Armie Hammer as The Winkelvoss Twins: There could be no greater opposite, nor a better opponent for Mark Zuckerberg. The Winklevoss Twins are Harvard gentlemen to the tee, and have the girlfriends, popularity, and most importantly, club membership that Zuckerberg can only blog in his Livejournal about. These 6-foot All American men represent the classic traditional nature Harvard, and waft around with pretty boy pretentiousness until Zuckerberg challenges them, via lawyers, to a near ultimate match of brain vs. brawn. Score: 8
Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker: Especially with his paranoia, Parker is a mysterious character, and arguably a negative influence on the susceptible Zuckerberg. N*SYNC may never be able to entirely leave the presence of former pop-star Justin Timberlake on screen, but it’s ok. Timberlake’s casting as Napster co-founder Parker plays beautifully into the rock-star persona of the man, and also his possibly weak nature. His voice is still too high to take serious as a tough guy, but Timberlake's performance delivers as a hot shot who may not be all that he is cracked up to be. Score: 7
Rashida Jones as Marilyn Delpy: This fictional character is scene in only a couple of scenes, but her presence is important to connecting Zuckerberg’s real sense of vulnerability to the film’s audience. Delpy is compassionate as much as she can be to a creature like Zuckerberg, without rewarding him the praise he may be too accustomed to. Her final words sum up the possible thesis of the film - that Zuckerberg isn't an asshole. He was just trying to be. Score: 7
TALKING: The young Harvard minds of The Social Network are armed with rapid fire dialogue, especially Zuckerberg, whose quick mouth makes the lawyer meetings all the more entertaining. The first scene of the film is just a conversation between Zuckerberg and a girl named Erica. The energy of the moment is engrossing, and also indicates that this movie about a website can hold tight the audience’s attention, even if the characters are just sitting down, talking. Score: 8
SIGHTS: With glorious montages that smoothly cut between regular and slow motion, along with a striking gray color tint that robs the atmosphere of much bright natural lighting, the Fight Club director continues to rank visuals as top priority into his experiences. It’s arguable that no one has shot college life, especially the often disposable-as-a-red-cup college party scene, with such a detailed, particular eye. Score: 9
SOUNDS: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have created one of the year's best and most unique scores for The Social Network, one that pulsates in a ghostly nature, without ever sounding too industrial (or too much like a Nine Inch Nails project). Music is a consistent presence in the energy of the film, and the musical pieces themselves provide a solid rhythm seemingly to fit the fast clacking of a hacking keyboard, and vice versa. For good measure, Reznor and Ross even do their own synthesized send-up of Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Score: 9
BEST SCENE: The first few scenes have a brilliant energy to them. From our motormouth introduction to Zuckerberg, to his lone contemplative march through a cold Harvard campus, up through the Facemash process which is wonderfully cut between a club party that’s wildness pales in comparison to Zuckerberg’s hacking antics.
ENDING: Awaiting friend confirmation, rich man.
QUESTIONS: A colleague told me that Zuckerberg’s name on his own Facebook in the film, is “Tyler Durden,” but even after my second viewing, I can't confirm this. Also, neither the book nor the film elaborated much on what the original Face Books were. Were they like online picture Rolodexes? And while the real Mark Zuckerberg will probably never see this movie, I wonder what he would think of his depiction.
REWATCHABILITY: Whether to take in the visuals again or to study the perplexing characters within this wonderful film, a second, third, or even fourth viewing sounds like a great idea.
This is not a film about the social networking aspect of Facebook. Friend accepting and socializing prove to be the most difficult tasks for the main characters of The Social Network to process. Especially it’s centerpiece, Mark Zuckerberg, a man that carries with him an absolutely beautiful irony - that this website, which has created a whole new way of interacting with people, is the product of a man who doesn't have the skill to make friends. As the (magnificent) trailer for the film mentions, with its footage of our Facebooks and the song “Creep” by Radiohead, our lives are made in his image. We, with our beloved Facebooks, are the real epilogue to The Social Network’s story.
The Social Network is a marvelous film that is the result of a stunning true story being put into the best hands possible. Fincher uses his expert grasp on editing energy to condense the complicated story behind Facebook into a pulsing success, as guided by a brilliant screenplay from Aaron Sorkin that focuses on Zuckerberg’s weaknesses over his obvious successes. The entire deal is brought together by an incredible performance from Jesse Eisenberg, who turns the once archetypal characteristic of “curly haired and awkward” into an art form.
The power of Facebook is impossible to deny, and Zuckerberg will always be a god-like being, walking amongst us in secrecy. Whether the events within this movie are entirely true, or whether they merely stand as the parting words of bitter anonymous witnesses, The Social Network is successful in bringing down Zuckerberg the God down to earth, and out of his own orbit. If only for just two hours.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10