A film that definitely stresses its prowess in screenwriting structure more than traditional character arcs, The Social Network, is an intriguing hodgepodge nonetheless. Directed by David Fincher of Se7en, Fight Club, and Benjamin Button fame and written by Aaron Sorkin (now an Oscar winner) of The West Wing TV series, this film is comparable to 1960s/1970s fare like Network, All the President’s Men, and The Boston Strangler. The last reference is a good example because The Social Network has found a nice parallel between the days of Facebook’s toddler stage where everyone was hoping to get a piece of the pie (today a half-baked pie to some extent), and the days where everyone is trying to settle disputes over its ownership and production. Strangler focuses on two sides to a series of events with one parallel focusing on murders and the other focusing on the investigation.
Unlike those classic films about communication, this film has a somewhat unsettling motif that never lets up. The audience sees the darkest, consistent secret to all the characters: they all have trouble talking to each other. Whether there is substantial truth to this in reality or if it is a total work of fiction invented by Sorkin, it is something worth pondering. No matter how smart these guys are, online social networks were created by people who might have a lot of difficulty talking to people in the real world. Forget that old adage where people learned how to deal with others over time and through interactive practice. Now we hide behind our computers. Facebook guru, Mark Zuckerberg, seems to represent this modern question and common problem as dramatized in this film.
Actor Jesse Eisenberg does a fine job channeling his inner awkwardness, akin to the likes of Richard Dreyfuss, while actors Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield provide a little more normalcy. Their respective Facebook co-authors may be a bit cooler, but they still fail a lot in the live communication department. In fact, the most adept figure at communication is Mark’s ex-girlfriend, played by rapid-fire Rooney Mara. She appears to be the only character that has no difficulty communicating directly. The first act makes it no secret that Mark’s inability to talk to girls may have lead to this pop culture phenomenon with a little reminder to this question at the film’s end. David Fincher’s portrait of social ineptitude says a lot without spoken words.