The Social Network strives to give an insight to how the world’s most popular social URL, Facebook, came to be. This website inception piece of sorts actually has a boring premise – a Harvard smarty pants student came up with a better version of the already existing and popular social site MySpace. To my surprise The Social Network had more to offer than the simple plot line yet didn’t quite rise to the occasion as an example of exceptional filmmaking either.
After Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) creates Facebook along with his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) things go from an innocuous “idea” to a nasty legal fight about the true originator of this social site. On the surface the movie seems to be a lesson about the dog eat dog business world where the old adage that “this is business not personal” is often echoed. Yet fortunately for the film, it wasn’t just about “business.” The irony in The Social Network is hard to miss -for all of his wealth of computer programming genius Mark has poor skills in personal relationships. He’s lost his girlfriend and one of the lawsuits against him comes from his own friend.
Though we already know how the story ends, to the credit of director David Fincher The Social Network was still able to capture and sustain your attention. In particular the deposition scenes were the most intriguing in the movie. It is here where Marks intellect beyond computers is revealed as he is able to match wits with seasoned attorneys and school faculty heads. However at times he came off simply as smart ass kid purposely pushing buttons such as when Mark shamelessly and arrogantly tells the school board that he “deserves some recognition” for breaching the security of the schools computer system, hence revealing some “gaping holes.”
The performances in The Social Network are a mix of blah and becoming. Justin Timberlake’s smug – to cool for words portrayal as Napster founder Sean Parker was as about as convincing as his ex-girlfriends(Britney Spears) hair extensions. Actor Jesse Eisenberg has said that this wasn’t the type of film that you could improvise in and after seeing his fast talking quick comeback computer filled lingo conversational style, it was easy to see why and had to be a challenge to pull off well. Eisenberg certainly met the challenge as Zuckerberg but didn’t supersede it either – watching him eventually became trite as he came across as robotic and stoic. Andrew Garfield’s take on Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin was the most genuine depiction the movie had to offer and if he can bring the same zest to his much anticipated role as Spider Man, surely that film too will do well.
If you haven’t heard of actor Armie Hammer before seeing The Social Network, chances are you won’t forget about him afterwards. In addition to his debonair looks and large stature (he’s 6’5”) Hammer would be hard to miss in the film because he plays both of the Winklevoss twins. It was a brilliant use of digital special effects that had the audience believing there were two identical twin actors at work here. However, it was also Hammer’s attentive depiction and treatment of the twins as two separate individuals that also made the illusion a successful one.
Non Facebook users may have the impression that the site is an activity for those 21 and under only, therefore assuming the movie would be geared toward such a youthful demographic. Yet being the cerebral movie that it is The Social Network was smart to accentuate the elements of greed, power and competition of the story and in the process made the film appealing to just about everyone regardless of their age.
The trajectory of Facebook’s success is a remarkable tale and The Social Network does a good job at interpreting that story. Partly a thriller, a love story and the drama of the human condition The Social Network’s tagline of “You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies” was a perfect fit. Part of what makes the movie appear great was that it exceeded low expectations when it came to, on paper at least, a dull plot. Yet when the film is looked at for what it is (entertaining and even fascinating at times) it isn’t exactly on the same par as what Facebook is, a pioneering piece work!
Dallas Facebook users or anyone else interested to see how the social website phenomenon got started can pick up a copy of the movie when it is released next week on DVD and Blu-ray.