Today: July 22, 2024

Social Network, The

David Fincher and Aaron
Sorkin prove to be a match made in cinema heaven with this dark tale about the
creation of Facebook.

Some
filmmakers are intrinsically connected to the modern zeitgeist. They have a
sense of what needs to be said and how. David Fincher is just such a filmmaker.
They are a rarity but he is one who has done it on at least two occasions. The
first was with Fight Club (1999),
which captured the ethos of the existence of man in a commercial driven world.
It summed up the 90s to perfection and left us all wondering what we had just
been hit with. He has now done it again with The Social Network. A film that seems to not only tap into what
made the 00s (or should that be Noughties?) but issues us who lived in it a
cease and desist letter in the way we conduct our lives
.

Mark
Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) is a
highflying computer science and psychology student at Harvard University. When
he is dumped by a girl he sees as an equal, but likes to imply she is not, he
sets out to determine what makes people popular, cool, desirable and in doing
so starts a journey that leads him to creating Facebook. The problem is his
former best friend Eduardo Saverin (Garfield)
and the Winklevoss twins (Hammer)
both believe they are responsible for helping and implanting ideas into
Zukerberg’s head allowing him to create his Social Network. Aided by Napster
founder Sean Parker (Timberlake)
Zuckerberg soon finds himself hugely successful and in a series of legal depositions
to prove he is the soul owner and creator of the internet phenomenon.

For
those who have no interest in Facebook and are worried there will be talk of
‘poking’ and ‘friending’ fear not, The Social Network is as much about Facebook
as Casablanca (1942) is about the
geographical location. Instead it is a
cutting indictment of our times, in which the world is brought together through
the means of technology and yet thrown apart by the isolating effects
.
Central to this is Zuckerberg, a man so overwhelmed by his own intellect that
it borders on autism. Unable to form any kind of bond with those around him he
is at his most comfortable while ‘wired in’ to a computer. That he aspires so
much to be part of something elite that will ‘lead to a better life’ means he
is destined to remain solitary for the remainder of his days.

Based
on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben
Mezrich
The Social Network could have easily become a TV movie of the week.
In the hands of director David Fincher
and writer Aaron Sorkin it transcends the source material and becomes one of
the darkest comedic films you are ever likely to see.

Sorkin’s
work is familiar to most, having created TVs The West Wing and written films such as A Few Good Men (1992) and Charlie
Wilson’s War
(2007), but here he takes his trademark whip-smart dialogue to
all new levels. Everything is seeped in
irony and cynicism but in a way that will make you smile, laugh and cry in
rapid succession
. Furthermore, he injects all his characters with a bitter
tragedy. Zuckerberg in particular is a man who by all measures you should
dislike and yet he is never anything less than utterly compelling and sadly
vulnerable.

To
have a script by Sorkin is one thing, to have a world class director to bring
it all together is a stunning privilege. Fincher
keeps the look cold, everything is drained and almost monochromatic to
perfectly reflect in the inner workings of the people who populate his world
.
Furthermore, he utilises Sorkin’s legal deposition framework to heighten the
drama and inflect the inevitable tragedy. So in one scene we see Zuckerberg and
Saverin have huge success while in the next they stare across a table, malice
in their face, the friendship obliterated before your very eyes in a matter of
seconds. It is the sheer attention to detail that Sorkin and Fincher present which
allows you to become intimately familiar with these characters. You
learn to read every character’s tick and foible dragging us into a world where
“a million dollars isn’t cool…a billion dollars is”
. To call this Faustian
would be an understatement.

Bringing
these real life characters to life could have resulted in a bizarre
impressionist show, yet thankfully who can safely say they know anything about
who Zukerberg et al are? As such we are
treated to a plethora of marvellous performances from a young cast proving they
are indeed the generation to lead Hollywood on
. Timberlake demonstrates
that his music is just one of his endless talents and here projects a hugely
arrogant individual who when pushed is nothing more than a scared child playing
monopoly with other people’s money. Andrew Garfield shows that the soon-to-be
Spiderman is an actor to defy the blockbuster standings to Christian Bale levels. He completely captures the devastation of
Saverin and is one of the only characters on offer who you feel has a genuine
case of hard done by. However, it is Jesse Esienberg who captures, transcends
and brings to life the brains behind Facebook. Lurking within every barbed, spiteful, cutting comment lies an inner
turmoil that Esienberg never loses sight of, but instead allows it to gently
drip into Zuckerberg’s very existence
.

Accuracy
be damned this is not about the truth, this is about a state of mind that is
present in all of us and one that must change if we are to evolve as nature
intended. Or as one of Zuckerberg’s lawyers points out “Every creation myth
needs a Devil”. If this film had a
‘like’ button we would be pressing it so frantically Facebook would surely
implode.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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