Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review of The Social Network

Rottentomatoes.com: 96% 
Commonsensemedia.org: 4 Out of 5 Stars 
Metacritic.com: 95% 
IMDB.com: 8.1/10 
My rating: 90% (4 and 1/2 Stars)


Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Josh Pence, Rooney Mara, Max Minghella, Brenda Song, Rashida Jones, Joseph Mazello, John Getz, David Selby, Denise Grayson, Douglas Urbanski, Brayn Barter, Patrick Mapel, Chris Hughes, and Henry Roosevelt. 

Directed by David Fincher, Written by Aaron Sorkin, Score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross 

The Social Network, last year’s most highly praised movie, last year’s most buzz-surrounded film, last year’s defining picture, was definitely a piece of art. It was perfectly edited, impeccably acted, and its script, written by Aaron Sorkin, was definitely the best of the year, and one of the best of the decade. It was David Fincher’s breakout film, (though recognized previously before by the Academy for his work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and his first serious critical response having come from the Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt led Se7en) Though it was a touch overrated, it was definitely one of my favorites of the year.



The movie stars a perfectly cast Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, nailing his enticing withdrawnness and bumbling intelligence. It dwindles near sociopath, though his cold brilliance isn’t from lack of the ability to develop human emotion, just his lack of comprehension of it. Eisenberg’s performance tells the audience all this; you can even see a bit of vulnerability revealed in him towards the end, when he possibly reconsiders his own actions. Though the characterization may be mistaken by some as pure acting- it’s quite the contrary, but if you read between the lines enough, you realize that it’s pure humanness.


Jesse Eisenberg, master of the cool, 
calculating stare. 


Jesse Eisenberg, playing an unsure Mark 
Zuckerberg following the orders of a 
narcissistic Sean Parker 


The story revolves around the fictional forming of Facebook. After breaking up with his girlfriend, a drunk Harvard student, Mark, creates a computer program with Harvard girls for people to compare two girls. The Harvard system is overloaded; Mark is found out and shut down. The Winklevoss’, two of Harvard’s richest and best, offer Mark the opportunity to help them start up a website called “Harvard Connection.” Instead of helping them, Mark writes the code for his own website, “The Facebook.” His rich best friend, (the much more sympathetic character of the story) Eduardo (Andrew Garfield), is the financial backer of the company. Soon, Sean Parker, (played by the scene-stealer of the year Justin Timberlake) one of the first 20-something billionaires, gives Mark some helpful financial advice, and soon, Eduardo seems to feel useless. The other half of the movie focuses on the meeting discussing the lawsuits made against Mark by the Winklevoss’ and Eduardo. Moral questions, such as the price of popularity, risking friendship, and the climb to success are raised. It is a deep, though-provoking movie. One portrayed honestly and sharply.


Rooney Mara, giving Jesse Eisenberg a talk 
about why dating him is like "dating a 
stairmaster" 



Zuckerberg’s performance was a standout, but Andrew Garfield also held his own. As I said before, he was the sympathetic character of the movie- he was the one everyone’s rooting for. Throughout the movie, Mark’s character is to cold and in the end duplicitous; the temptation of fame and success was just to great (and as he said before, “The train is coming, Eduardo, I’m just afraid you’re not going to be there to jump on it,” While all the other characters were silently pondering their motives, Garfield was the one who helped the plot move. He was the one that brought everyone that nostalgia of the college days back, (not everyone was a uber genius like Zuckerberg) presenting all of the characters’ insecurities with a kind of grace, and all of the betrayals he faced with depth.


Andrew Garfield, playing Eduardo Saverin, 
the lovable best friend of uber genius Mark Zuckerberg 


Timberlake was a sort of dark comic relief, being the sort of Darth Vader to Zuckerberg’s Luke Sykwalker. His loudness and obnoxiousness is somehow charismatic, filling the character’s shoes, those of a successful billionaire in his late forties; only in his twenties.


 Sean Parker, his ego as big as his IQ. 

Josh Pence, who plays the Winklevoss twins, is absolutely pitch perfect. The little changes made to his hair, voice, clothes, and behavior is excellent- he makes you think it’s a pair of twin actors playing the characters.


A perfectly cast John Pence as the Winklevoss twins. 


David Fincher’s directing was dark and impeccably cinematographed, capturing the tense mood of every scene. It was a beautifully orchestrated, modern and enticing vision; it represents why contemporary film making is relevant, and signifies why we still make films.

                            
                             David Fincher directing The Social Network 



Trent Reznor’s beautifully conducted score was simple yet astonishing. It perfectly captured the constant, contemplating mood of the film. It was definitely the best sounding film of the year. (It pains me to say this, but it was a little bit better than Hans Zimmer’s work on Inception, which is destined to become a classic) The sound mixing and editing was rapt and sharply done. It perfectly complemented Reznor’s music, brilliantly resounding with the film itself.


   Trent Reznor accepting the Oscar for his Academy Award Winning 
Score for The Social Network  

Sorkin’s screenplay was intelligently written and made the movie what it was. It stood hand in hand with David Fincher’s directing, adding just as much to the film as everything else did. The great writing held the acting up, giving them all the material they needed. Here’s a piece from the screenplay:

FROM THE BLACK WE HEAR--

MARK (V.O.)
Did you know there are more people with genius IQ’s living in China than there are people of any kind living in the United States?

ERICA (V.O.)
That can’t possibly be true.

MARK (V.O.)
It is.

ERICA (V.O.)
What would account for that?  

MARK (V.O.)
Well, first, an awful lot of people live in China. But here’s my question:

FADE IN:

INT. CAMPUS BAR - NIGHT

MARK ZUCKERBERG is a sweet looking 19 year old whose lack of any physically intimidating attributes masks a very complicated and dangerous anger. He has trouble making eye contact and sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s talking to you or to himself.

ERICA, also 19, is Mark’s date. She has a girl-next-door face that makes her easy to fall for. At this point in the conversation she already knows that she’d rather not be there and her politeness is about to be tested.The scene is stark and simple.

MARK
How do you distinguish yourself in a population of people who all got 1600 on their SAT’s?

ERICA
I didn’t know they take SAT’s in China.

MARK
They don’t. I wasn’t talking about China anymore, I was talking about me.

ERICA
You got 1600?

MARK
Yes. I could sing in an a Capella group, but I can’t sing.

You can read the entire screenplay at this link: 


The one thing that turned me off the film was the lack of grand scope. It was more of a human piece, focusing on the small aspect of human nature, but even that I felt wasn’t very magnified. It was a film that I felt required close studying to fully understand; one that requires, like the characters, contemplation. But I tell you, once you do that, this film is very rewarding. It wasn’t my favorite film of 2010, though. I felt that Christopher Nolan’s Inception was underrated, as it is an obvious masterpiece, and will become a classic. The Social Network is a beautiful piece of film making- a small, beautiful, treasure of a film- and one that should be treated as such. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice review. You may need to change the layout of the blog. The archive is all messed up. Still, interesting layout :)

    ReplyDelete