Review: The Social Network

Posted September 9th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Based on the story behind the founding of Facebook, The Social Network is adapted by Aaron Sorkin from the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’. Directed by David Fincher it carries with it some large hype and soaring expectations while fighting some misconceptions along the way.

While it seems headed for recognition at the Academy Awards, and despite my being captivated throughout, there was something about it that kept me from feeling completely fulfilled as I mentally assessed it during and since. After letting it sink in I think that had to do with the real world nature of what was being seen on screen. That unease may actually be a significant contributor to the value of the film.

Facebook is a website almost everyone uses, and seeing the back story created this sense of unease at supporting those who maybe many wouldn’t want to support but do so nonetheless by frequenting the website. With how entrenched it is within our culture it really doesn’t matter though as people aren’t going to change their habits…and maybe that is the point as the film hits on so many elements of the world we live in today.

The Social Network is essentially told from two different timelines, with Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) facing questions at depositions while cutting back to the events as they happened and watching them play out. It took a little while to get into the flow of this as the film really starts at full steam and never slows down. It can be a little intimidating and I found my head spinning a little bit as I tried to connect the events and characters and keep up with what was going on. It did settle for me though as events progressed.

This is easily one of the most dialogue heavy movies that I’ve ever seen. Considering the script was done by Aaron Sorkin that will probably come as little surprise. However it is worth noting, as going in expecting anything but will lead to disappointment or potential boredom. I’m a Sorkin fan and even I found it overwhelming to an extent.

I was captivated throughout though and found myself wanting more. I don’t know if the conclusion was too abrupt, but I was expecting more to come. That would seem to be a compliment as the film never let up through its two hours, and despite carrying so much weight I was hoping it would go further and was surprised at how quickly those two hours seemed to breeze by.

Jesse Eisenberg does a good job portraying Zuckerberg, though I really didn’t like him. That is probably a credit to Eisenberg as it wasn’t his performance I didn’t like, but instead the guy he was playing. It was nuanced enough though and they tried to provide hints of a conscience. I found that to be somewhat contrived and forced, almost as if that was one of the promises they made to Zuckerberg in all the discussions the filmmakers had with him during development.

It was Justin Timberlake who stole the show as Sean Parker with one of the smoothest performances in recent memory. My feeling on Parker swung wildly throughout the film, but there was no denying the magnetic type quality of the character and how he was portrayed by Timberlake. I also enjoyed Andrew Garfield and Rooney Mara quite a bit. Garfield, recently announced to be the new Spider-Man, was credible and grounded (though seems too old to be playing a high school student in that upcoming reboot). And while Mara only appeared in a couple scenes she had obvious screen presence. That certainly contributed to her getting the highly sought after role in the upcoming trilogy adaptation that begins with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which is also being helmed by Fincher.

The most surprising element of the film was the score. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails did the entire thing and it was exceptional. I was taken aback at points where it added true gravity to the scenes, almost providing suspense on its own accord. It was so good that I’m seriously considering buying the score which is something I’ve only done on a few occasions in the past.

The Social Network is a fascinating look at not just the drama that came with the creation and explosion of Facebook but also in how it presents a compelling take on human nature and current society. Certainly it won’t be for everyone given the non-stop heavy dialogue and unlikeable lead being portrayed. However it is definitely not a movie that should be passed over because it is the “Facebook movie”. It is so much more than that. Undeniably interesting , well acted and directed, The Social Network is worthy of consideration and the praise it will receive going forward.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Social Network is not yet rated. It releases on October 1st.