Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: "The Social Network" All-American and All-World

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 17 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Social Network (2010)
Running time: 120 minutes (2 hours)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language
DIRECTOR: David Fincher
WRITERS: Aaron Sorkin (based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich)
PRODUCERS: Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, and Scott Rudin
EDITORS: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
COMPOSER: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross


Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake, Max Minghella, Rashida Jones, Joseph Mazzello, Brenda Song, Josh Pence, and Rooney Mara

The Social Network is perhaps the most critically acclaimed film of 2010, having won close to 20 best picture honors from critics groups and organizations. Directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network is a fictional account and dramatization of the founding of Facebook, the hugely popular social-networking website.

The film begins on a fall night in 2003, when Boston University student, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), breaks up with Harvard undergrad, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). A computer programming genius, Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and lashes out in a flurry of blogging and programming that launches “FaceMash.” Zuckerberg’s new website not only captures the attention of the entire Harvard campus, but also gets the attention of a trio of budding entrepreneurs. That night, in his dorm room after the breakup, leads to what will become “The Facebook” which will eventually become the global social network, Facebook. This revolution in communication, however, brings Zuckerberg both success and a horde of broken friendships, partnerships, and lawsuits.

The Social Network is about several things. It is about Mark Zuckerberg, about the founding of Facebook, about a clash of privileged and ambitious personalities, and about perception and point of view. Most of all, The Social Network seems to be about the beginnings of a map to the future. The triumph of Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is how he compressed all of this and dramatized in two hours what was probably dull and tedious in real life – including Zuckerberg’s legal wrangling. Sorkin makes nerds come across as sexy masters of the universe. Slimy bastards (like Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker) seem like rock stars. Parties are shinier, and Harvard’s campus is like a hub, the nexus where all exciting places meet.

And the performances meet and match Sorkin’s exceptional screenplay. Jesse Eisenberg has made a career of playing likeable, amiable dweebs, but as Mark Zuckerberg, he turns that on its head with this outstanding, sublime performance. Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg is like a god, a genius whose indomitable spirit smolders behind a mask of petulance, detachment, and a pout. Zuckerberg should be so Garbo-cool.

I’ve thought for a long time that Justin Timberlake had the dramatic chops to pull off good roles; now, I have proof. Timberlake makes Sean Parker (founder of Napster) cool and attractive, the guy you’d want in your corner, and you’d still forgive his cocaine habit and general sliminess. Andrew Garfield almost steals the film as Eduardo Saverin, a character who is the only adult in the room (which makes him a tragic fall guy). Armie Hammer makes the most of his every moment as the twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (with actor Josh Pence doing body double duties) by giving each brother a separate, distinct personality.

The one who pulls it all together and makes The Social Network arguable the best film of 2010 is director David Fincher. The phrase, “visionary director,” gets thrown around a lot about talented hack directors (like Zack Snyder), but since Fincher’s mid-90s film, Se7en, it has been obvious that he is a true visionary. Fincher makes The Social Network operate like a suspense thriller; that’s why Sorkin’s tale of conniving nerds is never boring and always gripping. Here, computers, programming codes, and the Internet are like shiny guns, weapons that make these nerds seem like crazy, sexy, cool gangstas.

The Social Network is compelling drama – mesmerizing, hypnotic, and engaging. Everything about it works, and everyone involved should get credit for their great efforts, especially David Fincher.

10 of 10

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


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