THE SOCIAL NETWORK Mini Review and Video Blog

     September 13, 2010


Every now and then, a film comes along that perfectly taps into the zeitgeist.  “We blew it,” in the 60s with Easy Rider, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” in the 80s with Wall Street, and today “I’m CEO, bitch” in David Fincher’s latest masterpiece, The Social Network.

When I first heard Fincher – the brilliant director behind some of my favorite films of all time (Fight Club, Zodiac) – was going to tackle the founding of Facebook, I was shocked.  At the time, I wasn’t aware how Facebook started, and figured the company was the result of many people and huge venture capital investments.

While that is partly true, what really went on behind the scenes is a mesmerizing tale of backstabbing, self-indulgence, and good old-fashioned greed.  It’s also one of the best films I’ve seen in 2010.  More after the jump:

As most of you know, I record video blog’s with Peter from Slashfilm all the time.  While we usually record them after participating on a set visit or when answering reader questions, because we both got to see The Social Network at the same time, we decided to record a relatively spoiler-free reaction after we got home.  If you’d like to hear what we both thought (we both loved it), here’s the audio and the video is below.

However, because many of you might also like to read what I thought, here’s a few things that I think really stand out in The Social Network.

Jesse Eisenberg

Eisenberg’s performance in The Social Network is on another level.  He literally becomes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  While some actors might hesitate to portray someone that’s an asshole most of the time, Eisenberg seems to relish the opportunity.  Also, he’s able to show that when Zuckerberg wasn’t pissing off all his friends, he was just a kid looking for love and getting rejected.  Eisenberg has a few great, quiet moments that really tap into who Zuckerberg was in the midst of the craziness.  Keep in mind…Zuckerberg is so smart he literally designed one of the biggest websites on the planet from his Harvard dorm room.

While Eisenberg’s mostly known as “that guy from Zombieland,” he delivers one of the best performances of the year and his turn as Zuckerberg will propel him to the next level.

Justin Timberlake/Andrew Garfield

The Social Network proves two things: Justin Timberlake is great at whatever he does, and Andrew Garfield might turn out to be a pretty awesome Peter Parker.

While neither actor has the type of amazing lines of dialogue enjoyed by Eisenberg, they each have moments to shine and, overall, both are better than you might expect.

The Editing

While I don’t want to spoil the movie, I’ll reveal The Social Network moves back and forth in time to tell its story.  However, the editing ensures that the time-line is never confusing and that you’ll always know where you are in terms of narrative time and place.  While some filmmakers might struggle to tell a story filled with lawyers, students, lawsuits and love…this is a David Fincher film, and everything production-wise is top notch across the board.  While I haven’t seen every film released this year, so far the best editing has to go to Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World with The Social Network not far behind.

Aaron Sorkin’s Script

Holy shit it’s great.  The opening scene alone is worth the price of admission, but, after the fact, you get two more hours of some of the best dialogue of the year.  I think the script is some of the best work Sorkin has ever done and it’s definitely getting nominated at the end of the year.

What’s really exceptional about the script is that it never dumbs down the story.  An example is a scene where Jesse Eisenberg is hacking into some of the Harvard Fraternity houses to download everyone’s pictures for a new website he’s starting in his dorm room (before Facebook).  While some films might have a secondary character to explain how he’s taking the pictures and what exactly is going on, The Social Network casually mentions hacking terms and lingo like it’s the way everyone speaks.  It demands the audience’s attention and it rewards you with an incredible story featuring dialogue only Sorkin could write.

The-Social-Network-movie-poster-David FincherDid I mention the script is amazing?

David Fincher’s Direction

Brilliant. Amazing. Perfect.  I don’t know how else to say Fincher’s work on The Social Network proves he’s one of the best in the business. But as the director of some of my favorite films of all time, I’m clearly biased.

What I really love about the way Fincher tells the story is the balancing act between the present and the past.  We constantly switch between Zuckerberg sitting in his dorm room and the backstory of how “The Facebook” started and the lawsuits that were filed years later.  While some filmmakers have a tough time stringing together a series of interesting scenes, Fincher delivers a captivating film that had me engrossed from beginning to end.

Final Thoughts

If you read the previous few paragraphs, you may have noticed the lack of specifics and spoilers.  There is a reason for that.  When I walked into the theater to see The Social Network, I had zero idea what to expect. I didn’t know the backstory. And I had no knowledge of the players involved.  I always think the best way to experience a movie is to not watch any footage and to not read reviews.  That line of thinking definitely applies to this film.

Finally, even if you’re not one of the millions that spends hours-on-end checking your Facebook wall, I think you’ll love watching how the site got put together.  It’s a fascinating story and one that will be remembered later this year during Awards season.

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