Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: The Social Network


Facebook may or may not be evil and/or soulless. That’s beyond the scope of this review. For now let’s just agree that Mark Zuckerberg will happily sell the information on your profile and leave it at that. This is merely a review of The Social Network, which shouldn’t be taken as commentary on the website that no longer even bothers with the exclusivity this film’s characters brag about every couple of seconds.
Ahem. Anyway this movie is based on a supposed non-fiction book by Ben Mezrich called The Accidental Billionaires. Apparently no one from Facebook was involved in the film’s production, save Eduardo Saverin who was a consultant for the book. Which is good because we of course wouldn’t want to know Zuckerberg or Sean Parker’s sides of the story. It’s directed by David Fincher who also directed Fight Club which might be my favorite movie of all time. So that’s cool. This is my least favorite type of bio-flick: where the subject’s story is technically still unfolding. Ray or Walk the Line followed legendary figures whose most memorable years were behind them; the fate of Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook is still being written. Why make a film right this second? The movie W. was a bio-film about George W. Bush despite the fact that he was still in office at the time and like this film it doesn’t seem to let a little thing like “bad timing” get into the way of telling a story. This is the first strike against The Social Network and we haven’t even actually started yet.
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is the worst type of nerd: an asshole with zero social skills. Still somehow the Harvard freshman managed to land a relationship with a cute girl named Erica (Rooney Mara), but she soon dumps him when he makes one unknowingly insulting comment too many. Quietly devastated Zuckerberg gets drunk, hacks into the various Harvard dorm databases, posts a really mean blog about his ex and makes a website that rates the attractiveness of nearly the entire female undergraduate roster in the span a just a few hours. While nearly the whole campus calls for his head three older students hope to recruit him into their own web project. None of them are aware that their actions during the next few months will drastically change the current direction of online communication and social interaction.
Apparently he raises adopted cats
Fame has truly gone to his head
There’s not a whole lot to say about this movie honestly. This seems to be one of what will soon seem like an endless line of Oscar bait films that will be extremely hit or miss and heatedly debated so there’s little point in getting into too much detail here. I enjoyed the narrative of the film, which is told in flashback by way of two separate depositions (Zuckerberg tends to get sued every so often, possibly because he’s a ruthless sociopath but possibly because he’s misunderstood). This results in an unreliable narrator indirectly telling us how Zuckerberg is the most evil and ambivalent monster in history. And boy is he depicted as a heartless monster. If you were on the fence about Facebook you will likely not only choose against signing up you will probably start thinking all your friends already on the site are simple minded sheep who are following a modern day pied piper…except with the internet…and the piper made a shit ton of money…and no died…not yet anyway.
In this case the film’s greatest strength is the cast. I don’t really like to admit such a thing but the casting director made some pretty badass choices to play the characters. Jesse Eisenberg, who may or may not be the original genetic source that resulted in the creation of Michael Cera, isn’t the most diverse actor in Hollywood but strikes gold here by playing Zuckerberg. I agree that he’s very solid in this role and that an Oscar nod isn’t out of the question, though I will be surprised if he were to win. Andrew Garfield was a pleasant surprise as Zuckerberg’s sexual assault victim original partner Eduardo Saverin. It’s surprising because I’ve never heard of this guys at all until recently because he’s playing Spider-Man in a forthcoming reboot film. However his sympathetic and grounded performance has finally sparked my interest in his future superhero movie so I have to give him credit. By the way, isn’t it funny that the only real sympathetic character in the movie also the only person to have anything to do with the original book? Obviously it’s a complete and utter coincidence and Hollywood has far too much integrity for such bias.
Rooney Mara plays the girl Erica though she didn’t really do enough to make me have a strong opinion on her performance. That said Mara will be playing the lead in an American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so I expect her to be filling me with rage in the very near future. The breakout role here is, of all people, Justin Timberlake. He is perfect as the scheming Napster creator and enemy of all record labels Sean Parker. He has the perfect blend of scummy, egomaniacal and pathetic; a range of character acting I assumed Timberlake was incapable of grasping. Seriously, the guy from ‘N Sync has no business being as good as he is in this film. I assume this is an after effect of Disney kidnapping an entire generation of child performers and forcing them learn all aspects of entertainment before being unleashed on an unsuspecting world.
Pictured: A possible future Oscar nominee
God help us all
Honestly the only negative thing I have to say about this film is that the ending is really more of a "Non-ending”. The movie doesn’t really reach a resolution, but that what happens when you make a film based on events that are still transpiring. Facebook is still getting bigger, growing ever larger and soon it will consume the entire internet. Perhaps Social Network II: The Squeakquel will cover the time where Mark Zuckerberg uses his growing influence with the American people to overturn the government and force the country into a socialist nightmare (Currently scheduled for 2015). That’ll be pretty good movie.
This is a fine movie and I wish I had more to say about it. Really it’s artistically good and it has few flaws. The actors were great, the characters were compelling, the structure was intriguing, the ending was non-existent; that’s pretty much all there was to it. I can say that as art this film needs a lot of credit, but unfortunately it didn’t leave me with a sense of wonder and endearment that I usually award a perfect score. However this is one of the best movies of 2010 and if you haven’t caught it yet you need to make sure you figure it out sooner than later because everyone should check it out while they can, since once Zuckerberg takes over the world it will likely be banned.
I give The Social Network 4 out 5 Adorable Pandas.

(Yes, I have a Facebook account. What of it?)
Pros
-Good characters
-A surprisingly good cast (Cry me a river)
-Unreliable narrator ensures that people will debate the content of this film forever
Cons
-The movies doesn’t end, it stops

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