Full disclosure: I wanted to hate this movie. The very idea about contributing money to a movie about a website that gets more hits than Google [be on the look out for a faux-mentary on the founding of Google by the by] gives me an uneasy feeling. Like having an all seeing eye that watches over your every movement, only to plunk down cash in order to see what it was like as a baby. Luckily, I’m not hired by a major site to do these reviews. Not only can I openly say I had a bias going into the movie, but I can spin it in a way that makes this review personal as opposed to most reviews that kinda function as free advertising. So yeah, if you want to know why one of the largest websites on planet Earth feels cold, yet functional to all of its users -- then you may want to watch The Social Network.
With every fiber of my being, I was vehemently opposed to watching a movie about a website that has functioned as a timestamp on the very moment my generation got its daguerreotype or refrigerator. We can argue the importance later, but let’s argue the movie now. The Social Network is almost too calculatingly paced. Where events in Facebook founder, Mark Zukerberg’s life, functions as well typed bullet points to the many lawsuits the founder and site endured along its successful topple of the dot com industry. Jesse Eisenberg delivers another breakthrough performance. Let’s hope the Michael Cera comparisons dwindle as this actor continues to prove his awkward worth on the big screen. There were moments where I couldn’t quite figure out who to empathize with more. The actor who is often confused with a lesser in his field, or the actor playing a character who goes from an ostracized genius to billionaire autist.
The Social Network, as a movie, seemed hellbent on proving to me it was some capable version of respectable cinema. Having David Fincher as director is one thing, but enlisting the golden pen of Aaron Sorkin is another. If anything, this movie made me miss Sports Night and made me want to want to miss the West Wing [a show I refused to watch because after Sports Night I never wanted to see Sorkin do television again]. This punchy dialog -- Sorkin has continued to refine and make his staple, requires far more than a competent cast. So seeing Justin Timberlake playing Napster founder, Sean Parker, and fresh-faced Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin -- was a little unnerving. As a result, I think Timberlake should be given his own dramatic vehicle that doesn’t require him to work under a sloppy director’s eye [Stop-Loss and Alpha Dog did him a huge disservice]. Saverin instilled confidence that there may be hope for this acting generation, do I want to see him as a web slinger? Meh.
The unsung highlight in The Social Network would have to be Trent Reznor. Speaking as someone who was never particularly fond of Nine Inch Nails, I can say without delay I will watch any movie Reznor and Atticus Ross are attached to. A film with Fincher directing, Sorkin writing and Reznor sending trills of pulsing notes through the walls sounds like a cavalcade of destruction. A refreshing new sound for a movie that really has the deck stacked against it, Reznor creates a new sound for a movie that could have easily utilized the standard one-note piano with orchestral violins as bland cinematic wallpaper.
The Social Network succeeds because honestly, none of this should have. Sorkin should have flipped out mid-way through the writing process. Production should have been held up once Natalie Portman decided not to give critical info on the secret life of Harvard’s illustrious Porcellian club members. The world’s largest website should have issued a cease and desist order once the inner workings of Zuckerberg’s cases were being examined.
None of this happened. Portman was more than forward and Zuckerberg’s quirky personality was unabashedly open the idea of this script. Embodying the very site he founded, Zuckerberg is painted as a narcissist who, not only, has issues making friends but struggles keeping them as well. We see how Timberlake is almost too convincing as a paranoid manipulator and answers questions many in the theater I occupied pondered. “What ever happened to the inventor of Napster?”
I liked The Social Network. I liked it a lot.The movie dragged when the Winklevoss brothers are looking for a way to punish Zuckerberg for the theft of their idea for Facebook. In the wide scheme of things, you could find good in these moments of dragging. Honestly, the movie hinges on the execution of the dialog. Which everyone does so in such a poetic manner it reminded me of GlenGarry Glen Ross or Good Night and Good Luck. There isn’t some glorious machine gun fight or hokey love story to wrap up what many people want in a movie that was advertised so heavily this year. There is only a room, with one man, with a laptop.
I give The Social Network...
The “Whoa That’s Awesome Math” Award