Release Date: 1st October 2010 (US)/28th October 2010 (AU)
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Key Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
So, some of you know how much I love a lot of David Fincher’s work (notably Se7en and Zodiac). I’ve got every episode of television that Aaron Sorkin has ever done. I’ve travelled around the country numerous times to see the Trent Reznor-fronted Nine Inch Nails.
To say I had some high expectations for The Social Network would be an understatement.
Firstly, you need to know one thing about this film. It moves fast. F-A-S-T fast. A strong espresso, a Red Bull, or a line of speed will allow you to jump in and swim because quick frankly, if you head into this tired, distracted, or inattentive, you’re going to find that you are sideswiped by a bus and lying in the gutter. It’s a perfect example of rapid-fire dialogue. You’ll want to breathe at every opportunity you get, because as the opening scene shows, you might not get a chance for a few minutes.
While the concept of “the Facebook movie” may seem unappealing, this isn’t a film you simply “like” or leave a comment on. It’s a tale of friendship, betrayal, business, loyalty, drama, and above all, ego. Sorkin’s script (based on Ben Mezrich’s “The Accidental Billionaires”) takes some liberties, but as has often been said – why let truth get in the way of a good story.
Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly detailed, specific in it’s minutia, and completely unlikeable. This is the performance that will lift him to another level in the eyes of many viewers. From the way he walks to the way he delivers dialogue, Eisenberg crafts one of the most complete characters to land on the silver screen this year. The newly announced Spider-Man Andrew Garfield is Eduardo Saverin, the ousted former CFO of Facebook. As the source novel is based upon Saverin’s pitch to Mezrich, Garfield’s performance is the most likeable soul in the story. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, although history is usually written by the winners, this is (however distanced) how Saverin sees the events, and how he came to be unfairly removed by Zuckerberg. While positioned as the most likeable character, Garfield’s performance never strays into “poor me” territory. Saverin is flawed, human, and imperfect. However it is Justin Timberlake who is playing in the ballpark of Alpha Dog (rather than The Love Guru), portraying Sean Parker, one of the founders of Napster, that gives the most entertaining performance in the film. Suave, oily, experienced, paranoid, and above all, proud, Timberlake’s performance is almost likeable. Interestingly this isn’t due to his character’s arc or motivations, but purely down to the charismatic performance. You are waiting for him to screw you over, but he’s just so charming that you’re happy to spend time with him until he does.
Fincher’s style for The Social Network is almost a cross between the colour pallet of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with the procedural nature of Zodiac, and there is little doubt that he has a distinct look and feel. Everything is cold, unappealing, and slightly depressing. While his shots aren’t as showy as usual, his ability to seamless push technology’s use to perfect his vision is incredibly apparent once you realise in the credits that two Harvard twins are played by a single actor. A lesser director would have had effects or shot structures that tip you off to this, or would have simply cast real life twins, Fincher found an actor for the role, and flawlessly executed it. As with so much of Fincher’s work, it’s the moments of technical mastery used to perfectly execute his vision that defines the director as one of the modern greats working in Hollywood.
Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor (in addition with longtime collaborator Atticus Ross) create a unique score for the film, sampling classical music as well as minor lifts from Nine Inch Nails’ “Ghosts I-IV” release (a 36 track collection of instrumental pieces that was described as “Soundtracks for Daydreams”). Having collaborated with Fincher previously (the opening of Se7en is a remix of Nine Inch Nails’ most successful track “Closer” and Fincher previously directed the music video for the band’s single “Only”), this is obviously a collaboration that is slightly out of the box for Reznor and Ross, yet they successfully build a synthesised score that at times recalls the great Wendy Carlos.
The Social Network is the adult drama that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps wanted to be. It’s currently the frontrunner for my favourite film of the year, pushing Inception, Toy Story 3, and The Town out of potentially taking the top position. Needless to say, go see it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use, like, or understand the cultural phenomenon that is Facebook. This is a film filled with the essence of classic drama and you’d be a fool to miss it.