The Social Network

Viewed – 18 February 2011  Blu-ray

I’ll admit to not being a fan of Facebook.  There, I said it.  I’ve been on the site as a member and built up a friends list, but something about the artificiality of the social experience it professes to provide feels fake and ultimately isolating.   So what excuse would I ever need to see a movie about Facebook?  I have just one:  David Fincher.

Coming from the director of such classics as Seven, Fight Club and Zodiac, one thing is expected from the off – this will be an intelligent and superbly crafted movie, whatever the subject.  So here we have current hot property Jesse Eisenberg as brainiac University student Mark Zuckerberg, the young guy who came up with the website that everyone has at least heard of, Facebook – and went on to become the youngest Billionaire in the world.  Following the story of his origins at Harvard University where along with best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) he changed the face of University social interaction and communication.  Yet such overnight success came at a price, and sooner or later he was being sued left right and centre as everyone watched his meteoric success, and wanted a piece of the pie.  That’s not to say that Zuckerberg was just the innocent genius entrepreneur, as several questionable decisions along the way proved him a devious thinker willing it seems to stab his best friend in the back if it means reaching more users and conquering the world.

Eisenberg is brilliantly complex as the quietly spoken, highly intelligent Zuckerberg, part vulture-like businessman, part naive, impressionable kid, and often I found myself feeling sorry for him, despite his wealth and success.  Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo, possibly very much the victim in what transpired is also excellent and a flip side to Eisenberg, offering reason and sense where there often was none.  Justin Timberlake, as business wonderkid Sean Parker is also eye-opening, offering a flamboyant, movie star ego that comes between the two friends.

Fincher’s direction as expected is painstaking and as always, shot with witt and a bending-the-rules sensibility that I’ve grown to adore.  This is aided by a dark and moody visual style with some excellent choices of music from Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor.  Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s script is very dialogue driven but gripping, and as a somewhat outsider to the social networking scene, I found the story utterly absorbing and thought-provoking, whilst not changing my view one bit on what I think of Facebook.  It may have changed for many how we communicate, and changed the world as a result – but that’s not necessarily a good thing, and as the movie came to its conclusion, I was left with mixed emotions.  Partly pity and disdain but also respect and admiration.  

Verdict:  4 /5

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