Monday, October 4, 2010

Movie Review: The Social Network

I want to write more movie reviews, but I'm being cautious of stepping on the toes of my friends at Nerdmic Strain A and Strain D and Blog of Dennis.  But I decided that if I review a movie one of them has already reviewed, I would just try a different take on the review and link to them. Here is Nerdemic Strain A's review of this movie. Enjoy.

The Social Network (Columbia Pictures 2010)
directed by David Fincher

The Social Network is, simply, an amazing movie.

I was among the first wave of users to join Facebook after it was opened to anyone with a college e-mail address. I've always been proud of that, especially since I was late to the game with Myspace and LiveJournal and later Twitter. The site has been under a lot of fire lately for questionable practices, especially regarding privacy issues. So when I originally heard about Facebook's somewhat shady origins, I was far from surprised. And when I heard that Hollywood was working on a movie based on it, I was immediately interested.

The movie was written by Aaron Sorken based on Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires. Wired had an interesting story recently about the movie that talked a bit about the origin of the book. Mezrich worked closely with Facebook's co-founder and original CFO, Eduardo Saverin, to write the story of Mark Zuckerberg's creation or theft (depending on your viewpoint) of Facebook. Sorken and Mezrich actually worked pretty closely with each other as they worked on their respective projects, while taking different turns. From what I've heard, the book sides with Saverin and vilifies Zuckerberg, while the movie definitely took a more balance approach, which I'll talk about soon.

All around, the movie was excellently made. Sorken's script turned out great, full of snappy jokes, vicious one-liners and the sort of clever dialogue I'd like to see more of in movies (one of my favorite lines is said by one of Zuckerberg's lawyers: "You're not an a--hole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be one"). David Fincher did a great job with direction, bringing the best out of the script and the actors and using some amazing camera work that captures the emotion of the scene without being distracting.

The score fits the movie perfectly. Even after hearing the 5 song sampler, I was a bit skeptical of Trent Reznor's participation in the movie. I love Reznor's work with Nine Inch Nails and How To Destroy Angels, and I had no doubt he could write excellent instrumentals (like he did on Ghosts, NIN's second-to-last album). But would it fit with the sort of drama that The Social Network seemed to be promising? A horror movie, sure. A gritty war movie, sure. A post-apocalyptic movie like The Book Of Eli, sure. But after watching the movie, any doubt was laid to rest. Much like Citizen Kane (which nearly every major reviewer has been making comparisons to), the score fits like a glove. Not only does it help underscore and reinforce the drama of several scenes, at times the movie changes the tone of the scene all together, and the end result is that an amazing movie was made even more amazing.

And the actors...well they were just incredible. Andrew Garfield is in a breakout role as Saverin, deftly portraying him as a business student that thinks he's a top-level businessman. Jesse Eisenberg takes on Zuckerberg, alternating between an awkward computer nerd and a vicious programmer who will cut throats to get what he wants. Armie Hammer pulls double duty as the twin brothers suing Zuckerberg, working with special effects to do a great job acting heated arguments with himself. And Justin Timberlake is a scene-stealer as Napster founder Sean Parker, whose sudden and grandiose appearance amongst the Facebook crew throughs a monkey wrench in Saverin and Zuckerberg's already strained relationship.

I mentioned earlier the balance of vilification. That is, in my opinion, the best strength the movie has to offer. There is no real clear-cut villain. Every one of the main characters has their hands dirty is some way. From what I knew of the history of Facebook, I had expected Zuckerberg to be the villain. And in a way, he is. He betrayed his best and arguable only friend for his own gain, and screwed over the brothers that hired him (it can be argued that he didn't "steal" the idea, but he did screw them over). But as he is portrayed in the movie, he is also a man who feels he has been wronged, and sets out to fix his own life. He is a man who is just trying to do the best he can in life with what he has. I can't forgive the betrayal, but I also can't fault him for the latter part. The closest thing the movie has to a villain is Parker. But he's just a slacker who's good with computers whose early success lead him to think he's entitled to more success. He parties like a rock star parody and just wants the party to keep going. Not the greatest guy in the world, but hardly Iago or Michael Meyers or Gordon Gecko or Agent Smith. And the closest the movie comes to a "good guy" is Saverin. The betrayed student who trusted his friend and was stabbed in the back the first time it was convenient for Zuckerberg to do so. But he also tried to force Facebook into fitting what he thought it should be instead of letting it become itself or whatever Zuckerberg wanted. Also, he never really gave me the vibe that he wanted Facebook to be a success, only that he wanted himself to be a success. I could go on, but it would be best to watch it yourself, as there are layers and layers of complexity to the relationships between characters to other characters and the site itself.

Overall, a great movie, a must watch, and when it comes out on DVD I will be buying it on the first day.


No comments:

Post a Comment