Rudie Reviews David Fincher’s The Social Network [2010 New York Film Festival Theatrical Review]

Once in a generation, a new form of communication changes the way we live. Whether it be the telegraph, telephone, email or in instant messaging; these advances in human interaction have changed the world. Facebook is the newest entry into history. The latest film from filmmaker David Fincher (Fight Club, Panic Room) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night, A Few Good Men) explore the story behind the founding of Facebook in The Social Network based on the bestselling book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, is in theaters now.

The Social Network is highly engaging, visually stunning and brilliantly written. Facebook was started in 2003 by Harvard students Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), these very young men had no idea what their service would do for college students, the world and maybe most importantly their friendship. The film opens with the break up of Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara), the quick and snappy dialogue between them is masterfully written and wonderfully performed. We get a sense of Sorkin’s works within the first minutes of this film. But what comes at the end of this scene is what’s interesting and sets up the film and the audience for a gripping story and gives its characters cause. Smartly in the way it’s done, not many films can do this within the first scene, some can’t even do it within the whole movie. Fincher and Sorkin make it work!

Afterwards, we get a string of calculated meetings, Zuckerberg writing code for his first site, Facemash and the seedlings for a new adventurous journey to his current site, Facebook. But with success comes a price, Zuckerberg is being sued over the idea of Facebook and the unjustified termination of the CFO of the company and best friend, Eduardo Saverin. Structurally, telling the story through two separate deposition hearings, this is a very clever way to tell two stories at once by jumping back and forth between past and present events is a great way to keep an audience on its toes. It’s highly effective. In the first hearing, we meet the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler (played by the same actor Armie Hammer in a very convincing performance), they claim they had the original idea for an inclusive social network that eventually became Facebook. But the meat of the story is from the second hearing between Zuckerberg and Saverin. Seeing a friendship diminish over one thing is heartbreaking and all too real. The way the film is told is never really knowing who is right and who is wrong. We get a recount of the same story from several different perspectives. But in the end, no one comes out clean.

David Fincher in this past decade has really expanded his filmmaking ability to become a master filmmaker in the Hollywood system. Fincher’s camera is sweeping, unflinching and cold. He creates a perfect tone in dealing with the subject matter by adding this layer of coldness, not only in scope but in character. Most of the film takes place in old college campuses and glass building high rises, adding the sense of loneliness to its world and characters. Sorkin adds the rest of the texture by injecting his signature sharp witted and rapid fire dialogue. The performances of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake (who plays Sean Parker, the founder of the music sharing site, Napster) finishes of the recipe by delivering these words in a cold, quick and almost dead manner. The words have virtually no emotion behind them, giving the film an extra kick of dimension that is absolutely wonderful.

What I find to be very interesting is the performance of Justin Timberlake who plays the founder of Napster, Sean Parker. If you will remember, Justin Timberlake was in the boy band N*SYNC and 10 years ago they were not too happy with Napster by giving people the ability to download their music illegally for free. And when I say unhappy, I mean they sued him. Has Timberlake had a change of heart over the past 10 years? Or can he get behind the fact that Napster, albeit illegal, changed the way we listen to and eventually buy music. In any case, his performance is brilliant! I feel Timberlake is an under appreciated actor and in The Social Network, he really shows what he can do with a strong script and great director.

Overall, The Social Network is the best movie of the year! This is the Citizen Kane for this generation. What Orson Welles did in 1941, David Fincher does the same in 2010. This is a milestone in film-making and storytelling. I will not be surprised if this movie isn’t nominated for Best Picture or moreover win the award. The true irony of this film is it’s about a social network that connects people from all around the world but it’s characters are limited to connecting to anyone themselves. What a wonderful new world we live in?

Grade: A+

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