Movie Review: The Social Network
Let’s have a quick hypothetical situation, say your some poor sap who can only see a single film this year. Without question David Fincher’s The Social Network should be that film. I’ve seen movies I enjoyed this year like Inception. Quite honestly it’s been a pretty decent year for thinker movies. Despite its tough competition, The Social Network is the best movie I’ve seen in the last five years, perhaps ten, and this comes from a LOTR fanboy as well.
The movie chronicles Facebook’s creation myth. While based on a true story, Aaron Sorkin, as great writers like Shakespeare before him, acknowledge that his first fidelity is to the narrative rather then truth. This isn’t to say that The Social Network is a fictional account of Facebook’s creation. Sorkin wisely tells this story the only way it can be told, from warring points of view. We get genius founder viewpoint of Mark Zuckerberg, played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg. This is sure to earn him an Oscar nod for best actor, I would put my money on him to win at this late of a point in the year. We also see the story from his best friend Eduardo, a caring friend who ultimately was likely betrayed, but was simply unable to see the true potential of the site. Andrew Garfield does a fantastic job of making Eduardo vulnerable and honest, if not seemingly in over his head. Justin Timberlake also makes a late appearance as Shaun Parker, founder of Napster. I’m generally loath to see musicians turn to acting, but Timberlake knocks this one out of the park. He’s more snaky and insidious than most movie villains, and you wish someone would give him a good punch in the face by the end.
While the actor’s all do a great job with their characters the real star of the show is Sorkin’s dialogue. It snaps back and forth between everyone in the film. As the film takes place on the Harvard campus, it’s no surprise that everyone in the movie sounds like a genius, with Zuckerberg just being more of a genius. The dialogue holds you riveted from the opening scene until the closing climatic one of utter hopelessness.
From the opening scene of the film you know it’s going to be a special one. A young Zuckerberg debates with his momentary girlfriend about the importance of clubs at Harvard to a successful future. We’re immediately shown how social inept Zuckerberg really is. He’s an outcast from the traditional Harvard scene that his classmates are born into, yet he also is a complete ass to his girlfriend who attends Boston University. She flatly informs him that “You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole”.
This brutal truth sparks the creative muse inside Zuckerberg that would create Facebook. The film fully explores the irony that the most successful social network of all time was founded by someone with absolutely no social skills. The site that people spend the most time on, myself included is not actually fostering real connections, but shadows of one’s like those seen in Plato’s Cave. The film perfectly defines my generation, and I imagine will be continually viewed and critiqued as the years go on as a milestone in film making. I’ve seen great action movies, I was sad at the ending of Titanic, I’m upset when the hero dies at the end of movies, but nothing compares to the creeping dark night of the soul feel at The Social Network’s end. Ultimately the entire film just rings true, in both the small and grand sense of the word, no small feat in this age of Hollywood.