I don't really need to talk about how great THE SOCIAL NETWORK is. We all had an idea about how things might turn out when we heard that Fincher and Sorkin were teaming up. The film currently holds an astounding 97% on Rotten Tomatoes with only five negative reviews in nearly two-hundred. It has been hailed as "important" and "the film of this generation". Does it deserve these lofty accolades? Obviously, my opinion, whether concurring or dissenting, will have no bearing on how the film will ultimately be received. It is what it is. Only time will tell if it is to become something truly important in film history. All I can say, in my humble opinion, is that THE SOCIAL NETWORK is indeed special.
Never once during my viewing of Fincher's film did I question its quality. Most movies take a few scenes to suck me in and even some of my favorites still had me debating their caliber until the credits roll (or after). THE SOCIAL NETWORK benefits from top-notch performances and a sense of drama that has no rightful place in a film about the invention of Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg and co. claim that much of it is fabricated). Fincher seems to possess a lens through which only he can shoot. His signature glossy, low-key lighting graces the picture and brings energy and life to the Ivy League world which is probably a lot less fun than this film would have me believe.
The film's non-linear path also gives it a little something extra. One reviewer called it a "ROSHOMON-style" of editing, which either means he's never seen ROSHOMON or he's an idiot. The editing in this picture is a lot simpler and a fair amount more interesting. Essentially, THE SOCIAL possesses a linear storyline, but intercut by scenes of the ensuing lawsuits that Zuckerberg has provoked. How things get to this point, especially concerning his best friend and Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, is a curiosity throughout the film.
There wasn't a single weak-link in the films ensemble cast with the exception of maybe Rashida Jones who, while not giving a bad performance, just didn't seem to fit within the film. Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg is about as perfect casting as you're likely to see. Eisenberg certainly carries with him a distinctive flavor to all of his performances and that comes across in this film as well, but not in a way that doesn't benefit the character. His trademark awkwardness is there, but it's not endearing, it's a sort of closed-to-the-world, insane-genius sort of awkward, with a dash of misanthropy. Some people have described him as a villain, but I don't see it that way at all. He's the protagonist, of that there's no doubt, but he's also a somewhat tragic character with some good intentions and very human motivations. I don't think Fincher or Eisenberg went out of their way to demonize Zuckerberg in any way, which could have been done with ease, but would have likely damaged the picture.
This film also served as a great introduction to a few other young actors. Andrew Garfield is very dynamic in his role as Eduardo. He'll be seen in the near future as Spider-Man and my money is on him out-shining Tobey McGuire in every way. Justin Timberlake has acted before, but never on this large of a film. His performance as Napster creator, Sean Parker, is comical and full of energy. Perhaps the most impressive performance, however, comes from Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins. While watching the film, I assumed that actual twins had been cast in the parts. Not so. I'm still not clear on the details, but I believe one of the brothers was played by a stand-in and Hammer's face was digitally superimposed over the face. This truly blows my mind. Never did I think that THE SOCIAL NETWORK would wow me with it's visual effects. Either way, Hammer is funny and charismatic in the roles and should have a bright future from here on.
Some may scoff at the notion that Facebook is an important invention of the 21st Century, but it, along with it's less-popular social networking brethren, have changed the face of communication and inter-personal relationships for the foreseeable future. In a drug-fueled rant, Timberlake's character expresses the idea of people living their lives on computers, which certainly seems to be the way things are going. What does it mean then that such an invention was created by someone as reclusive as Zuckerberg? Does it mean that we will become like him and shun our real-world relationships? Or is it simply ironic that such a man created a way for the world to connect in a way that was previously impossible. THE SOCIAL NETWORK doesn't answer these questions, it only provokes them. Even though much of the drama of THE SOCIAL NETWORK is apparently made up, this version of events will be the most accessible for generations to come. For many people, this will be an important chronicle of the invention of such a life-altering application. Even if Facebook fades away, which only seems inevitable considering the fickle nature of today's consumers, THE SOCIAL NETWORK will still shed light on the early days of social networking, which isn't going anywhere.
My only problem with the film is that it could have been longer. Fincher's films usually near the 150 minute mark, but this was the more-standard 120 minute film. An extra half an hour might have given THE SOCIAL NETWORK a bit more recognizable beginning, middle and end. However, this is truly minor considering the many positives I saw in the film.
PS. The Reznor score was pretty good, though I hardly noticed it at times.