It doesn’t matter if you live in Little Five, Roswell, SoNo, Reynoldstown, or any other populated area in metro-Atlanta, Georgia, southeast, America, the world – you’re bound to come across Facebook if there is a computer to be found with internet access. The Social Network, a film adaptation of the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, tells the story of how Facebook (supposedly) came to be.
Director David Fincher keeps his spirit with past thrillers such as Seven and Fight Club and delivers a cleverly-written piece depicting the inspiration for the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), to come up with the social networking monster of a site. Eisenberg’s depiction of Zuckerberg is dry-witted, intelligent, no-frills, and a fast typist. Told in flashback, Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend and shortly thereafter drunkenly starts a rather short journey to what will be known as Facebook. Along the way he seeks advice and pointers from his roommates, school colleagues, and Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), to help him on his venture whether they like it or not. The “present” of the story, where the hearings being held questioning Zuckerberg’s actions along with his peers is helpful making connections of what the audience is about to see in flashback as well as develop the characters.
The Social Network has two roads to drive – the cinematic and the factual. Cinematically, the screenplay is well-written. The scenes taking place at Harvard University, which is about 70 percent of the film, are engaging as they make the feeling of a college campus come alive. The scenes taking place in venues where the hearings are taking place are informative and tense on the retrospective events being recalled by the people involved in creating his website. The California scenes are at the bottom of totem pole due to lack on the energy and intensity present in the other settings and essentially there to acknowledge a change of scenery.
Factually, it is highly doubtful The Social Network is accurate by any means thus making the film purely as a piece of entertainment with the subject matter being its selling point. Whether or not the people are depicted accurately on camera is in question. Unfortunately, the probability of the film’s audience seeing and associating the actual people of Facebook as their Hollywood-ized dramatic version is likely much to their dismay. Second, the idea of adapting a book, which is considered to be a stretched version of the truth to begin with, as opposed to more accurate information, is beyond me. It’s the movie to talk about at the water cooler. Chances of opening up a Facebook account after viewing the film are higher.
Apart from the film’s origin and matter, the pace of the movie is steady as the narrative perspectives cross paths. The lighting is dim and rich capturing the dark stained trimming of the Harvard dorms and the clean lines of the conference rooms. The acting is also well-done, but not to the point of overbearing the story making the delivery natural and humanistic. Eisenberg, Timberlake, and the rest of the characters were impressive. The music, created by Nine Inch Nails’ frontman/creator Trent Reznor and his frequent collaborator Atticus Ross was a combination of NIN’s Ghosts I-IV and a computer sci-fi 80’s flick. When using a “big name” in the music industry as a film composer as Spoon’s Britt Daniel for Stranger Than Fiction, Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter for Irreversible, or LCD Sounsystem's James Murphy for Greenberg, it’s interesting to see their style to set the mood for an entire film. For Fincher’s latest flick, the score complimented the story nicely without being overbearing.
In all, I agree with the critics it’s a well-made film. However, I do not agree it is one of the best films of the year or a work that defines a generation. It’s a nice change-of-pace for movie goers and great to see another work by Fincher, but that’s about it. What looks a little more interesting (and factual) is Ondi Timoner's documentary We Live in Public.