|Oooo. Bunch of guys looking at a computer screen! Oh, the implications!|
Plot wise, The Social Network is just that, the story of the founding of the most popular social networking site, Facebook. Wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea one night in his dorm room at Harvard, got his three roommates in on it, and the rest, as they say is history. As the site reaches monumental levels of popularity, Zuckerberg lets his ambitions get away from him, leading to make an enemy of his best friend and business partner, Eduardo Saverin. As the Facebook enterprise begins to grow, thanks in part to Mark's relations with Napster founder Sean Parker, he begins to take fire from all angles, from a trio of fellow classmates, who claim it was their idea first, to Saverin, who wants his fair share of the pot!
Both director David Fincher and Mark Zuckerberg himself have gone on record to say that the way events are portrayed in this film is heavily fictionalized! That being said, it's still a damn fine story! Though it's a character study, it moves like a thriller, getting your blood pumping as the stakes are consistently raised, while taking time to create and explore real, believable, relatable characters. It's really friggin' good!
Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg. I honestly can't think of a better person for this role. Eisenberg's trade mark awkwardness and fast talking are perfect for the character. The movie portrays Zuckerberg to be posses shockingly bad social skills, almost to a pathological level, and Eisenberg fully embodies this. Mark is ultimately an brilliant, but empty man, who is obsessed with doing something substantial, but has no idea what do with the real relationships in his life. So blind to the real world is he, that even as his relationship with his best (only?) friend comes crashing down, he doesn't seem to care, holding the same look of quiet and sad detachment on his face for the whole thing! It's a great performance from Eisenberg, one that we haven't seen out of him yet!
Eduardo Saverin is played by relative newcomer Andrew Garfield. I made some quip a while back about how Garfield would need to impress me here to convince that he was ready for the Spider-Man reboot. Verdict: I'm more than convinced! Garfield does just as fine a job as Eisenberg, if not better! Saverin is the emotional one of the group, constantly having to balance out Zuckerberg's indifference with touches of humanity, always looking out for him, and then displaying tremendous fury and pain when he realizes that he has been cheated! Garfield is shockingly good as the soul of the project! Though he's not the focus of the film, he's the slowly bleeding conscience of it!
Justin Timberlake is another revelation as Sean Parker! Timberlake has always been an actor I've defended. I've always seen him as a pop star with actual talent and acting chops to match! Maybe now people will come over to my side. He's mad crazy brilliant as this smooth and sexy, but ultimately dangerous entrepreneur. The way he suckers Zuckerberg into his world and outcasts Saverin is simply chilling, and Timberlake sells it as well as it possibly could be sold! He is a slimy and disreputable character, but God damn is he good!
Other performances include Rooney Mara, completely redeeming herself for A Nightmare on Elm Street as Erica Albright, Zuckerbergs muse who's breakup with him starts the whole mess, Armie Hammer, playing two roles as the comically dedicated Winklevoss twins, and Rashida Jones as a office intern sitting in on Mark's deposition!
All performances are great, and Oscar noms are definitely incoming for Eisenberg, Garfield, and Timberlake. I'm predicting, here and now, that Garfield is going to win Best Supporting Actor! He's that good!
|How could you do that to her Mark?|
The Social Network, though not dealing with serial killers or men with absurd identity crises, isn't all that far off in tone from director David Fincher's other works. Fincher excels at making films about people who are obsessed with something, in this case, accomplishing something of substance! Though this is the least violent of all his films, all of his stylistic choices are there! Harvard is lit like dungeon, and there are rarely any scenes set in wide open environments, keeping up the feeling of isolation that is prevalent in the film, giving the whole experience that feeling of dread that only Fincher can deliver! He's a very good director, but The Social Network ranks right up there with Se7en and Zodiac as his best works!
The script, penned by Aaron Sorkin, also deserves praising! The dialogue flies at a mile a minute, is always snappy, and is consistently interesting! Since Mark and Co. are computer programmers, a lot of jargon that most people won't understand, coding and what not, is thrown around willy nilly, but always in a way that the audience can comprehend! To hear Zuckerberg relay to us how he hacked into Harvard's databases to steal all the headshots of the students would normally be a snooze, but, thanks to Sorkin's devilishly clever script, it's actually quite exhilarating!
The Social Network is something special! Not only is it a first rate movie, it also presents us with a startling accurate picture of how much our social lives are ruled by technology. The last shot of Zuckerberg sitting, stone faced at his computer, constantly refreshing the web page to see if someone accepted his friend request is a startling accurate image of our times! The films boasts incredibly strong writing (Sorkin should start making room on his shelf for his Oscar right now), mad crazy brilliant performances (Eisenberg, Garfield, and Timberlake have all graduated into a higher class of actor), and impeccable direction from one of the modern greats (Fincher might want to clear some space on the mantle as well)! Though it hasn't dethroned Inception from my mind as the best of the year, The Social Network has jumped far ahead of all the other award season contenders. Oscar, I think you've found your winner!