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The Social Network – A Review

Perhaps a film about coding a website doesn’t sound like the most interesting of premises. Maybe that’s why Aaron Sorkin decided to turn the story of Facebook into a courtroom drama. Smart move, Mr Sorkin. The former West Wing scribe is renowned as one of the best in thebusiness, and The Social Network only serves to enhance his reputation; from the back-and-forth opening scene to the one-line put-downs and witticisms, this script is flawless. So, it’s a good job that a director as talented and intelligent as David Fincher was on board to do it justice.

As an opening paragraph, that may have been a bit gushing, but if there is one film this year that deserves it, it is this one.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg – inventor of Facebook and the youngest billionaire in the world. The story begins in the autumn of 2003, as he creates Facemash, a crude “hotness comparison” website, in retaliation to his recent dumping at the hands of Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). Flash forward four years to two separate depositions in which Zuckerberg is facing lawsuits from his former best friend and CFO Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), and three fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.

Through the depositions we see expertly crafted flashbacks to what may or may not have happened during the creation and growth of Facebook, as told by the three parties. What Sorkin and Fincher manage to stay away from so admirably is choosing sides – as Sorkin puts it, they chose the Rashomon approach. And it works. None of the characters on offer are particulary likeable, but at different times we manage to feel sympathy and empathy for different people. Everyone is jealous, paranoid or greedy at one time or another, and so we never settle into a pattern of liking any of them.

Despite all the greatness already pointed out, there is one thing missing from this review: David Fincher’s direction. When Zodiac was released in 2007 it set a new bar for Fincher’s work to live up to, directorially speaking, but The Social Network manages to even surpass that. The 48-year-old makes a five-minute blogging scene breathtaking, turns a tracking shot down a bus into a stroke of genius, and makes the Henley Regatta look like the greatest spectacle on earth – thanks, in no small part, to Edvard Grieg’s “In The Hall of the Mountain King”, AKA the Alton Towers theme.

 

Eduardo Saverin (Garfield) and Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg)

 

The man is nothing short of a genius. His shot composition and kineticism gives the film an energy that few other directors could. His reunion with cinematographer Jeff Cronenworth, with whom he worked on 1999’s Fight Club, appears to be yet another masterstroke, as every scene has a distinct look, whether it be set in a smoky bar, a soulless, glass-filled deposition room or sun-drenched California.

After all the dust has settled however, The Social Network is the story of an antisocial nerd who creates the social tool that has defined a generation and a decade. It is a remarkable story, and is told in remarkable fashion. When people look back on this decade, The Social Network will be remembered as a piece of work that absolutely captures these times perfectly. It is without a doubt the film of the year, and could be the film of a generation.

*****

  1. 06/11/2010 at 15:33

    Totally blown away by the fact, that a film about Facebook directed by David Fincher, can be a big-time Oscar contender. Loved it almost from start to finish, hope it gets awards come Oscar time. Nice post, check out my review when you can!

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