Reviews

The Social Network

4

Or ‘How To Lose Friends And Influence People’

The Social Network review

“Every creation myth needs a devil,” notes one of Mark Zuckerberg’s attorneys as the Facebook creator resigns himself to legal defeat. The Social Network is the story of one man’s God complex igniting his demonisation. It’s what happens when anarchy is assimilated – how rebellion gets contorted into money.

Facebook began as a popularity contest and, beneath the six-year digital limescale of Pokes and Likes and earnest Comments and ranty Wall postings, it still is.

Writer Aaron Sorkin skewers Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as a talented hacker/prankster who took someone else’s good idea and made it better. Stung and steaming after being dumped by his girlfriend (Rooney Mara), Zuckerberg vents by keyboard, launching a fusillade of bilious blog posts which tickle the prurience of his fellow Harvard students.

From there, he strips yearbook photos from the various Harvard houses and compiles ‘Facemash’ - a compulsive binary game of ‘Who’s Hottest?’.

Juiced by the campus-wide voyeuristic zeal and smarting from an IT knuckle-rap, Zuckerberg evolves the idea of a self-serving social matrix – a buzzing, organic hive of clutter, chatter and personal affect.

But where did he get this crazy idea from? As the renamed ‘thefacebook’ mutates and circulates from college to college, state to state and country to country, he’s challenged for intellectual ownership by fellow students Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer).

How much ownership can roommate and financial backer Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) cling to? Will Zuckerberg’s friendship with Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) boost or break his real-world social standing?

And can he transform his petulant pleasure into a gainful business plan? Does he even want to?

From here, Fincher and Sorkin split the tale into three timelines, skipping back and forth between the emerging present and Zuckerberg’s double-headed future deposition.

It’s bold - risking confusion and fatigue from anyone unfamiliar with the story. But the restless context and precision editing meshes thrillingly with the verve and venom and the ricocheting blame and counter-blame.

Sorkin’s view of his characters’ cultural awareness is a little too pat, too researched. “We used to live on farms, then in cities…” splutters Parker. “Now we’re all living on the internet!”

There’s also little sense of where these people came from – making it an effort to care about where they’re going. Rich kids getting screwed out of money? Surely they can just get a top-up from the trust-fund…

Garfield is wronged and whiney, while Timberlake plays Parker as a swaggering playboy – the bad influence that curdles Zuckerberg’s good intentions.

In a curious echo of Fight Club, he’s the film’s Tyler Durden – a cooler, sharper avatar/mentor whose charm blinds Zuckerberg to the implications of his bad decisions.

But it’s Eisenberg’s performance that captivates - icky and icy but strangely sympathetic.

He captures Zuckerberg’s jittery cadence and sharkish propulsion without resorting to Rain Man caricature, giving him the air of someone struggling to squeeze a little gain from all the pain; who’s started something he can’t figure out how to finish.

Next: The Social Network verdict[page-break]

The Social Network review

The story of Facebook runs parallel with the story of how the internet has blurred our public and private lives. It’s a story that, like the social network itself, is still in motion, constantly being revised and rewritten.

But in the glare of such a contemporary spotlight, Fincher hasn’t flinched. His unreliable narrators and multiple perspectives present a case that could be argued in many ways but isn’t drained of drama by aiming for journalistic balance.

He’s found the elusive sweet spot between offering a dry faux-documentary and printing the legend.

So, The Social Network is a creation myth.

But it succeeds because it doesn’t portray Zuckerberg as the devil – just a nerdy guy who hit on a cool and easy way to make friends and was a little too eager to pick up a few enemies along the way.

Or, as the attorney so memorably summarises, “You’re not an asshole, Mark. Just someone who’s trying too hard to be an asshole”.

Verdict:

Fincher dissects the sprawling Facebook story with flair and precision. Zingy dialogue, technical verve and a magnetic turn from Eisenberg. Now let’s see QT tackle Twitter…  

Film Details

User Reviews

    • davidrqliu

      Sep 30th 2010, 10:54

      5

      http://kino-obscura.com/post/1210440020/

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    • umafan1

      Oct 11th 2010, 6:54

      5

      Great movie! Really enjoyed it. Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant, he gives a career best performance and all 3 leads [him, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake] really carried this film. A masterpiece! Best movie of 2010!

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    • helenbubble

      Oct 12th 2010, 10:36

      4

      Really enjoyed this film.

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    • danbullock

      Oct 12th 2010, 12:18

      4

      An engaging and intelligent piece, adapted from the book The Accidental Billionaires by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, West Wing) who weaves in emotional undertones for Jesse Eisenberg's intoxicating version of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. Fast-paced and sharp, it also helps if you have an understanding of the internet and how Facebook revolutionised modern social networking. Sorkin's screenplay skips between three timelines, looking at how Facebook became what it is today and the two court cases Zuckerberg is absorbed by. Whether Zuckerberg stole the idea initially from fellow Harvard student or not, for me, is defunct. What's interesting is how he got there by taking the idea and expanding it quickly, effectively and intelligently, there's no doubting his talent and Eisenberg is incredibly impressive in bringing that to the big screen. The Social Network focuses on the complicated relationships of friendship, money, rebellion and temptation. Eduardo Saverin, astutely portrayed by Andrew Garfield, is Zuckerberg's roommate and financial backing from the beginning of Facebook. His struggle is the concern over doing it legitimately and keeping control of everything once Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) arrives on the scene. Parker founded Napster and can see the potential in taking it to a world wide stage, Saverin feels Parker is losing touch with reality and begins to try and drag Zuckerberg with him. Throughout there is a plethora of information being thrown at you, it feels like the movie for the geek generation, a celebration of rebellion, of technical prowess and taking an idea beyond the limit of what is achievable if you want it enough. A sharp, edgy piece of work and a change of direction for David Fincher, the only similarity maybe being a Tyler Durden-type relationship between Parker and Zuckerberg, threatening the edges of reality. Throw in a Trent Reznor soundtrack and you've got the industrial foundation for a body of work that will satisfyingly impress you, more than you would expect for something that could have delved into self-glorification and pop culture. The Social Network is a lot more cleverer than that, much like the genius of Zuckerberg.

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    • wolverina2411

      Oct 12th 2010, 12:51

      5

      Very fast pace yet engaging movie.

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    • gliff

      Oct 12th 2010, 13:16

      4

      Good film even if your not into Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg plays his part very well. More on what I thought. http://www.aacor.co.uk/blog/?p=63

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    • FilmShaft

      Oct 12th 2010, 15:21

      4

      Fantastic, see you at the Oscars Fincher!

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    • sandypiper

      Oct 12th 2010, 20:28

      5

      I thought this was an excellent film, and that Justin Timberlake was stunning in it...he lit up the screen.

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    • stevencolin

      Oct 12th 2010, 22:10

      great story, great acting, great film! not what I was expecting.

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    • stevencolin

      Oct 12th 2010, 22:11

      5

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    • sma13

      Oct 13th 2010, 7:25

      4

      Good film about a the phenomenon that is Facebook. It portrays Zuckerberg in a dualistic light - part adolescent sociopath, part tech genius. It is important to recognise that this isn't a factual documentary but a fictional account of the rise of Facebook with heavy input from disaffected 'friends' of Zuckerberg. I was expecting to feel a strong sense of loathing for him but I actually felt empathic towards his frustrated ambition and blind passion for Facebook. I am still concerned at the cavalier nature of company and the factual evidence that this emanates from Zuckerberg himself. One hopes that the power we have all handed to Google, Facebook et al is curtailed before they achieve world domination.

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    • verityt

      Oct 13th 2010, 18:05

      5

      witty, funny and very well acted. really enjoyable to watch and even bigger Jesse Eisenburg fan after this film. Justin Timberlake was perfectly cast too!

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    • donna

      Oct 15th 2010, 18:42

      4

      Much better than expected, couldn't see how a whole film about facebook could be entertaining, charming, thoughtful, and funny, but it was. A film for once that is all based on character development and how money and power can effect people. Great performances for all involved, highly reccommend

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    • district9

      Oct 16th 2010, 10:43

      1

      F**k facebook

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    • Jkaltz11

      Oct 17th 2010, 17:58

      5

      Fincher is perfect. This film is absolutely brilliant, especially the three main performances.

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    • kirstyullah1993

      Oct 22nd 2010, 9:25

      4

      I thought the film was very good and interesting. All the atctor's were well suited for the part. I thought that Jesse Eisenburg was by far the best person that they could of had for the role of Mark. The film was alot better then what I thought it would be and I could easily watch it again.

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    • OnScreen

      Oct 29th 2010, 9:35

      4

      Great film, superbly directed and the acting was on point. I thought Fincher wasn't the right choice for this subject matter but, he took Sorkin's script and turned it into a riveting film filled with superb undertones. Here's our full review: http://zoopy.com/q/5b1k

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    • Jrdnsans1792

      Nov 11th 2010, 11:53

      1

      I nearly walked out, if you've seen the trailer you know whats going to happen throughout the whole film. Packed with c**p comedy, and extremely tedious throughout, this is awful..

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    • Jrdnsans1792

      Nov 11th 2010, 11:53

      1

      I nearly walked out, if you've seen the trailer you know whats going to happen throughout the whole film. Packed with c**p comedy, and extremely tedious throughout, this is awful..

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    • SallySummers

      Nov 16th 2010, 20:51

      5

      I love Aaron Sorkin.

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    • zakmccormack

      Dec 20th 2010, 15:36

      3

      This movie is not one of extreme opinions for me. What I mean is that I didn't find it that amazing but then again it wasn't utter rubbish. Jesse Eisenberg was brilliant in the lead role and so too was Andrew Garfield as Eduardo. I don't it deserved as much praise as it has been given though as it just felt flat for the majority of the running time. However it did have it's moments (not very many, but they were there).

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      Feb 19th 2011, 6:58

      I have just joined flights to china and i like the concept vans watch. i think its really helpful for the one who want to know about this versace watch.

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      Feb 25th 2011, 5:09

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      Feb 25th 2011, 9:43

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    • historyfilms

      Mar 1st 2011, 1:56

      Funny point on the Rain Man reference. Jesse Eisenberg could have played either Tom Cruise (rich dick) or Ray (rain man) in this scene where Charlie Discovers he has a brother.

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    • chalmy

      Apr 12th 2011, 8:45

      4

      good film, i really wish this particular reviewer would put his thesaurus down and stop trying to be so clever all the time though..............

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