Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Social Network (2010)

Remember everybody, Harvard people are kind of jerks. Not to make a sweeping generalization, or anything. Anyway, the much-buzzed-about Fincher/Sorking team-up The Social Network exposes the narcissistic, misogynistic, nerd-istic truth behind the creation of social networking giant Facebook and the multiple lawsuits that followed. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, a talented programmer with a huge ego whose level-headed girlfriend (Rooney Mara) picks up on his pretentious self-obsession and dumps him. In a fit of drunken blogging rage, he invents "Facemash", a site that allows Harvard students to rank female students' photos in terms of hotness.

He becomes a school legend overnight and is pegged by wealthy crew-obsessed twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Arnie Hammer) to make a special social networking site for their final club, like a personalized, exclusive Myspace. Zuckerberg instead makes his own site with capital from his only friend Eduardo Savarin (Andrew Garfield), improving upon their ideas and opening it up to Harvard at large. "The Facebook" is an instant success, and as he opens it up to other schools across the country he is sought after by Napster founder Sean Walker (Justin Timberlake) and relocates to California, losing friends and credibility in the process.

Sorkin and Fincher really have done something impressive- they've taken the story of an unlikable asshole and made a captivating, complex film that acts as a commentary on the up-and-coming generation. The script is punchy and sleek, filled with those funny, fast-paced Sorkingesque conversations I'd expect, while the direction is stylish and polished. It's just a really interesting story, and I really didn't know much about the background of one of the most revolutionary websites of the past few years (loathe as I am to admit its significance).

The performances are excellent. I'm so glad Jesse Eisenberg is starting to come into his own, tackling more interesting and varied roles. Here he somehow makes me feel a tiny bit sorry for a character who is shown many times over to be a complete jerk. Garfield is adorable as Eduardo though his Brazilian accent is questionable. And yeah Justin Timberlake is fine, whatever. The real star of this movie is Arnie Hammer, who is soooo good as the Winklevoss twins.They are the best characters and I sort of wished the whole movie was about them.

As many others have already discussed, this movie is sadly without any good lady character who gets more than 5 minutes of screen time, but let's face it: this is a movie about a bunch of self-absorbed guys who did things with computers. It's based on a true story, and while of course I know that various events and participants were adjusted or left out to make for a more interesting movie, I wouldn't expect the filmmakers to add more women just to make it more even. While I find the lack of good female characters in popular films frustrating (hello, Pixar), it didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the film. Especially since the most sympathetic and likable character is indeed Rooney Mara's Erica.

The Social Network is a gripping story that roots itself firmly in this particular time, dropping tech references and website management lingo left and right but keeping the focus on the one young man who had a good idea and an unlikable personality, and what he suffered for both. It'll show old people once and for all that this generation is too smart for its own good and remarkably self-important because of it. I liked it- not necessarily best of the year material but there's not too much I can fault it for.

4.5/5

Further Reading:
Not Just Movies in-depth analysis
The Flick Chick review
Women and Hollywood review

Pair This Movie With: Ummm I'm drawing a blank on this one... Sports Night?

9 comments:

  1. No way, that was supposed to be a Brazilian accent? Here I was, thinking it was an especially decent American one. Hot damn.

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  2. "I'm bigger, stronger, and there's two of me." Best Winklevoss line.

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  3. Simon: Well I looked up Eduardo Saverin and it says he's from Brazil. He was definitely going for some sort of South American vibe. He was a bit tanner too.

    Jason: Haha YES!. Love those guys!

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  4. I thought he was going for a Jewish vibe.

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  5. Simon: According to wikipedia, the real Eduardo was born in Brazil to a Jewish family, so I guess Garfield partly got it!

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  6. 4.5, looks like the social network comes almost top of class, I'll have to check it out, more out of curiosity than genuine interest. Good review.

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  7. Pair this movie with... CITIZEN KANE?

    Agree with the 4.5 rating. This was the most engaging movie about complex intellectual property litigation and corporate stock shenanigans it would be possible to make.

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  8. I just saw this the other day and I was really surprised and pleased to find that it wasn't a stereotyped teen comedy, the way the commercials made it look. Makes me a bit sad that Mark Zuckerberg is such a jerk but it does make for a captivating story. I'd like to get the non-hollywood version too. And I'd pretty much watch anything with Jesse Eisenberg in it.

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  9. Totally blown away by the fact, that a film about Facebook directed by David Fincher, can be a big-time Oscar contender. Loved it almost from start to finish, hope it gets awards come Oscar time. Nice post, check out my review when you can!

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