If you’re reading this via some internet-based method, chances are you have either a Twitter account or Facebook account or both (at least). Social media is the now big thing, and anybody hoping it will run off to a dark corner to pass away is sorely underestimating how large portions of citizens of the Earth interact, share messages, look at photos, and tend their online farms & herds of cattle.
The Social Network is a film based on the rise of Facebook explicitly, set against a backdrop of two separate depositions agains creator Mark Zuckerberg, chronicling his rise from super-geeky Harvard IT student to majority shareholder in the largest social media franchise, currently valued (conservitavely, I might add) at $25 Billion US dollars. That’s 9 zeros, people. Billion.
Having David Fincher as director (Fight Club, Se7en) & Aaron Sorkin as writer (A Few Good Men, The West Wing) at the helm was always going to prove TSN to be a pretty good film. After seeing it at a preview on Monday night, TSN is bloody great. Sorkin’s “large slabs of dialogue” style could make a film like this drag interminably (it is about computer programming at it’s core), however Fincher’s direction is more than astute: each scene is set to allow the dialogue hold it’s own against the action. The opening scene where Zukerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) & his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) are having a discussion over beers clocks in at nearly 10 minutes. They’re just talking, but it takes a dramatic turn that their relationship never recovers from, which sets Zukerberg on his quest to show her what he can do. The things we do out of forlorn love/spite.
Trent Reznor supplies a modern-day poigniancy to the film; part-industrial, part-classical; all Reznor. It never telegraphs any drama, yet underpins it so marevellously you couldn’t imagine the scene without it. If Fincher painted the picture, Reznor framed it & hung it in the Louvre.
The cast is very strong: Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg is decidedly asperger-ish, bordering on savant. He’s an outcast with aspirations to climb out of his social quagmire & land a place in an exclusive Harvard finishing club. Something to set him up for his career beyond University. His best friend & Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) is “our guy”, the one we’re barracking for throughout the film. His performance is a little inconsistent, however when he performs strongest is in the one-on-one scenes with Eisenberg. The conflict is strong & the tension is deep, yet there still exists a palpable undercurrent of deep care by Saverin for his genius friend (why else would he act as witness for the defence in one of the depositions while concurrently acting as plaintiff in a second against Zuckerberg?).
Justin Timberlake is the absolute standout in his role as Napster founder Sean Parker. He needs to stop singing and act a whole lot more – whenever he was on screen he was the centre of attention. Compelling to watch as the paranoid egotist that Zuckerberg so longed to be. It’s here that I saw the only flash of history creeping into Fincher’s direction – Parker is Zuckerberg’s Tyler Durdin. While both are very real humans, Parker is the complete opposite of Zuckerberg in that he’s the bastard Zuckerberg thinks he wants to be, and he’s excited by his energy & leadership when he’s around because he’s so easily led (at one point, Eduardo notes to a lawyer that Mark needs to be “taken care of” in a very paternal manner, further noting their relationship is one that he wishes to not take advantage of, rather he sees himself in a role of carer for Mark to allow him to work & not worry about boring things like paying bills or shopping). Special mention must be made of Armie Hammer in the role of twins Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss (the Winklevii). He gets at least two of the best lines of the film, each as one of the brothers.
This film has it all: love, betrayal, conflict, humour, & Facebook. The 121 minutes vanish, and you’ll likely want to see it again immediately. Right after you update your status on Facebook telling people how good the film is and that you want to see it again.
The Social Network (M), opens Thu 28/10/10 across Australia.
Image Sources: facebook.com; premiere.com; Sony Pictures