Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Aaron Sorkin
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr
At the outset I’ll say The Social Network is a modern classic. David Fincher is a masterful director, and his attention to detail and well-known penchant for requiring 20 plus shots per take, have resulted in an incredibly polished product. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is funny, moving, and tells a story that focuses on the character that created Facebook, as opposed to being a factual portrait of dates, events and people, leading to the popular sites launch and the legal aftermath that followed. The cast is superb, especially Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield , and I’ll admit to being pleasantly surprised by how effective Justin Timberlake’s contribution was.
A movie like The Social Network was inevitable. You don’t create a web site with over 500 million users, and become a billionaire in just a few short years without drawing some attention to yourself. That kind of success must also warp public opinion both positively, and negatively. It attracts media attention, generates comments irregardless of any genuine research on the subject, and becomes fodder for others to profit from.
The movie is a fiction, loosely based on events that lead to the creation of the largest ‘social network’ the world currently knows. Ironically created by a character that by most people’s estimations, probably suffers from Aspergers. The movie version of Mark Zuckerberg is awkward, arrogant and seemingly incapable of feeling empathy. He’s also emotionally vulnerable, and despite the incredible popularity of his social project, finds himself alone, relying on his creation to make human connections.
The only minor issue I have with the film is with its insistence on labeling Zuckerberg a genius. Which likely stems from my understanding of the technology being used on the site since being a web developer by day allows me to put a roof over my head, and blog about all these wonderful movies at night! Facebook.com is a website, nothing more. Okay, it’s a huge popular web site, that’s clear, and it certainly was created by very clever programmers and engineers. But we’re also talking about a website that was a variation of other social platforms already available at the time, and based on an idea that arguably wasn’t entirely Zuckerberg’s own. So when the movie juxtaposes Zuckerberg with Bill Gates, I can’t decide if Sorkin is trying to say Gates is a genius, and Zuckerberg is the next generation. Or he’s saying they are similar because history shows Bill Gates’ success was less about genius level thinking, and more a mixture of talent, being in the right place at the right time, and business tenacity.
If you’re curious about how Facebook got started, don’t rely on this film for information. Watch it if you’re in the mood for a great looking film that’s well made, written and performed.
This is a gorgeously shot and edited film with an Oscar winning score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and if the opportunity to watch this at a theater near you opens up, certainly try to view this on the big screen. At home a HD viewing on a nice big TV is recommended. Watching this on anything smaller will ruin the impact of the film.
I’ve watched The Social Network several times now, and I’ve also watched Citizen Kane a few times too. My favorite moment in The Social Network is right up there with the classic opening shot of Citizen Kane, when Kane drops the snow-globe and we hear the word ‘Rosebud.’
At the end of The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg, the man with over 500 million people using his website, is all alone in front of his laptop. He searches for a girl he used to date, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) and sends her a ‘friend request.’ He then sits there, repeatedly refreshing the web page to see if she’s responded as the camera slowly zooms in. As Kane’s last word speaks of a lost childhood, Zuckerberg’s last action of the film comments on his inability to make a proper human connection.