johnlink ranks THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)

I’m slowly catching up on some of the films I’ve missed over the last couple of years. THE SOCIAL NETWORK has certainly been a movie I’ve been anticipating for awhile. It seemed odd to me that a film about Facebook might be excellent, save for the fact that Director David Fincher could make a Yoga video excellent.

I watched THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010) on 4.23.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

In the very first scene something didn’t quite mesh. Set in a Boston bar, the break-up scene between soon-to-be Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Erica (new Fincher muse Rooney Mara) is technically solid. The sound mixing is effective, giving the sense of two people in a big world. The editing works. The acting is sharp. But the dialogue from Aaron Sorkin’s script is almost too witty, too cute, for the otherwise reality-based scene. This is Sorkin channeling Mamet, and while it sounds cool, it’s the weakest part of an otherwise excellent (and Oscar-winning) script.

This entire movie felt that way for me: Something was almost always slightly off, and only slightly. Oh, this is wildly fun entertainment to be sure. But because of the hype, perhaps, and because of the presence of Fincher and Sorkin, my admitedly high expectations weren’t quite met.

The acting is exceptional. Eisenberg really nails the condescending Zuckerberg. Justin Timberlake, which may surprise some, is impressive in his portrayal of paranoid Napster inventor Sean Parker. Andrew Garfield, the next Spider-Man (who I recently discovered was a great actor in NEVER LET ME GO), serves as the audiences’ point of view as Zuckerberg roommate Eduardo Saverin. The twins, from whom Zuckerberg may well have stolen his idea for Facebook, are equally effective. Sometimes, however, it is better to know less about a movie. Armie Hammer was great in playing the Winklevoss twins. Only, one of the twins was played by Josh Pence, with Hammer’s face superimposed over Pence’s body. Maybe that is the ultimate commentary on the superficiality of Facebook, but learning that much of it was done with CGI took something away from the performance from me.

The pacing of the film is superb, once we get past that opening scene. The film flows mostly chronologically forward, though from two different points in time. The script jumps from Harvard, as Facebook is conceptualized and becomes popular, to a couple of meeting rooms where Zuckerberg is being sued by both the Wiklevoss twins (along with their partner Divya Narendra) and, separately, by his former best friend, Eduardo Saverin. These leaps back and forth plenty of nice juxtaposition between how things were and what they have become. The narrative flow also allows the film to glide forward in an entertaining way.

While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that THE SOCIAL NETWORK apologizes for Zuckerberg’s betrayals and prickishness ( a word I just invented), it certainly tries to explain them. Two reasons are given: First, that it’s all about a girl he’s trying to impress. Second, Zuckerberg is jealous of Saverin and has been setting him up all along. While the second point is only theorized by others in the film, and may not be true at all, the movie certainly wants you to believe that it is at least partly about a girl. Interestingly, it would seem as though neither of these things are particularly true. Both are inventions of the story, of the film world, and don’t seem to have much basis in reality. While this certainly doesn’t make THE SOCIAL NETWORK less enjoyable, it is interesting that there may be no known cause of Zuckerberg’s obvious social issues. The movie tries to explain why this guy, who created Facebook connecting millions of people, doesn’t have any friends himself. It struggles to provide a true answer.

Fincher makes this film a little darker and more foreboding than others might, setting a meeting between Zuckerberg and Parker in a dark, overly loud club, filled with leather-clad dancers, for instance. But these touches aid the aesthetic of the film. Zuckerberg’s mind isn’t well lit, doesn’t take the path of least resistance, so the movie doesn’t necessarily need to.

I came away really liking this movie a bunch. The scores below are relatively high, and they deserve to be. I respect the hell out of this movie, it entertained me and the acting is exceptional. But I’m just not quite  in love with it.





~ by johnlink00 on April 24, 2012.

3 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)”

  1. I think that was the most negative and critical 7.5 I’ve ever read. 😉

    • I know, right? I kept thinking that as I wrote it. Technically speaking, the movie is pretty sound. The acting is good, the writing is good… I just couldn’t embrace it fully. Compare that to the previous two movies, which both arrived at a final score of 7.5 from different angles. An exact science this is not, haha.

      • Personally I thought this was outstanding. I’ve watched it twice so far and loved it both times.

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