The Social Network – Review

The Social Nework (7.5/10)

Directed by David Fincher. With Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara, Joseph Mazzello

I know, this film has now been out for weeks, but I’ve only just managed to catch it on the big screen and since I can tell this is one of those we are going to be talking about in the coming Awards season, I thought I should probably spend a couple of words discussing it.

Easily the starting point has got to be the script. Aaron Sorkin is the real star of the film. The fast, sharp and witty dialogue, the same we all fell in love with on the West Wing is Sorkin’s trade mark and it is apparent on pretty much every single line in “The Social Network”. At the end of the day it’s what really makes it work.

David Fincher’s direction this time seems invisible to the untrained eye, but obviously to be able to make a bunch of nerds sitting by a computer interesting and compelling, as this film is,  must have been not an easy task.

The entire cast is faultless, lead by Jesse Eisenberg who is absolutely perfect in his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Even Justin Timberlake, however hateful and annoyingly disgusting he is in the movie,  is actually very good as Sean Parker, the inventor of napster, as we learn from his first scene in the film.

From the start the film  quite clearly does not want to take sides and decides to avoid lawsuites by drawing its dialogue from the various transcripts from the various procedural meetings with the various sides’ lawyers.

And if there is a problem with the film, this is maybe it: there’s a certain detachment throughout, from the way it’s filmed (Ficher’s direction is often quite cold and calculated), to the way it’s written (typical of Sorkin), and edited (the constant cutting backwards and forwards from the procedural meetings to the real story), basically from the way it’s conceived right from the start. All of which prevents you from having a real emotional attachment to any of the character on the screen.

You never really care about any of them in particular. Each of the actors does absolutely their best with what they are given, but clearly that’s not enough.

We almost want to feel bad for Andrew Garfield’s character (who plays Zuckeberg’s best friend Eduardo Saverin), but we are never given the chance to get too close to him, to fully care and really share his feeling of betrayal. In fact his character disappears half way through the film (he goes to New York) and when he comes back towards the end, are we supposed to reconnect straight away and feel for him? I don’t think so.

The film is so careful about not taking sides and sticking to the truth that it ends up being too clinical, cold and makes you feel really detached from it. I am sure that was probably the way all those people are in real life, but if you have to watch them for 2 hours you really need someone to care about.a

Towards the end (SPOILER ALERT… but not really…), we’re almost given a glimpse of a moment where we are meant to feel sorry for Mark Zuckerberg (a person so incapable to connect with real people, just as he was so good in making them connect with the internet), but it’s too little, too late. It’s really not enough and actually, that’s not how the film has been up until that point.

I really wanted to love this movie, I wanted it to become my favorite film of the year and instead, I just thought it was all right.. but not more than that. And I am almost angry with myself for saying that!

With all the will in the world, I don’t think I can give it more than 7.5/10. Still a very good film, but not the masterpiece I was hoping.

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11 Responses to The Social Network – Review

  1. Leonardo says:

    Wow, that’s a technical review! Interesting.
    I saw the movie yesterday and it was ok to me. Definetely not a masterpiece, I agree, but I wasn’t expecting one. I was hoping something sheding light on a central issue of our times, and that I found, at least a little bit. Big problem, though, is that there was no discussion at all on what is the impact of Facebook on our lives, what it means now for human relationships and for our everyday’s psychology. But this was perhaps too much to ask from a film? I don’t know. This film just wanted to tell the story of how a huge global success was born. Anyway, what’s the image of Zuckenberg, and of Harvard, that comes out of the movie? Difficult to say, but certainly, money seems to be the key, for both. It’s all about the money, about becoming bigger, “the next big thing”.
    I didn’t like that much the fast dialogues (I didn’t like it in West Wing either, in fact). As for Justin Timberlake, to me he looks unfriendly everytime he appears (whether he’s singing some terrible music, or acting, or selling something, or anything else the poor guy does anyway)… and this movie is no exception. His character clearly is just a clever assh…, and I felt sorry for Eduardo, Mark’s friend, who is basically left out of the loop. I liked very much the ending, with the datas rolling. Overall, I’d say 7/10.

    • moviegeek says:

      You’re absolutely right. The film does miss a trick in not attempting to have any sort discussion (not even a slight reference) on the impact of Facebook in our lives and our relationships. I understand that’s not what the film was about, but it would have made it more interesting and given it a much broader and relevant appeal as opposed to just an interesting story about the guy who invented facebook.
      Having said that, to me at least, the West Wing was possibly one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen, with some truly stand out-moments (the episode about death penalty and the one entitled “the two cathedrals” are just compelling! (Give it another chance sooner or later if you can).
      😉

      • Leonardo says:

        I will.

  2. Nostra says:

    Some good points about the detachment. Personally although not fully, I did connect with Zuckerberg. I can understand you either have that or not. I have an IT background, so when I was studying you do meet these type of guys.

    btw, there’s a small typo “about any of the any of them”

    • moviegeek says:

      Thanks for your comment (and for the tip about the type, which has been corrected)…
      Believe me, even if I don’t have any IT background I know some weird people like the ones in the film too. Jesse Eisenberg’s performance is really good.

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  4. kate says:

    I agree with everything you say in this review, especially with the detachment – I wonder what purpose that is there for? or maybe it wasn’t intentional?
    I’m thinking it may be because the film wanted to see everyone from a totally unbiased view – so we weren’t allowed to connect (makes me think facebook lol) with the characters and therefore maintain a very outside view of whats happening.
    Good review, I shall start reading some others 🙂

    • moviegeek says:

      thanks a lot Kate. Welcome to the blog by the way.

  5. Atticus says:

    Sorry for the untimely response, but I just found this review through a commenter over on my blog.

    I thought the movie was exceptional, but I’m beginning to think a lot of that stems from the expectations aspect. I never intended to see it, it sounded like it would be impossible for it to be the least bit entertaining. So I was pleasantly surprised and I might have thought it better than it really was. Apparently your experience was the opposite: you were expecting it to be really good.

    One key to our disagreement is that I thought the brief glimpse of a sympathetic portrayal of Zuckerberg at the end was quite effective. It dovetailed with several other poignant moments in the film and pointed to a vulnerability and humanity that was nicely contrasted with the rest of the character development.

    I certainly agree that Sorkin was the real star of the film, even though I sometimes find his dialogue too glib. He has a real sense for people, and a rare sensitivity to conflicting points of view. He generally portrays both sides on their own terms, fairly.

    These little differences prompt me to rate this movie very highly in comparison to you. Which in itself is interesting.

  6. Scott Ellington says:

    I totally agree with you that the film maintained a remarkable degree of objectifying distance between the viewer and the participants — it gave us no one to care about and sympathize with, probably for the very reasons you’ve cited. Leading us to side with anybody on screen might have come off as propagand in behalf of Mark/Eduardo/Winklevii…
    I think the only, singular moment of insight into anybody’s personal character comes at the absolute end of the film when Mark impatiently tries to reconnect with Erika and hits the F5 key frequently to refresh his screen repeatedly, ending the film in the key of suspense as all of us wonder whether she’ll answer his friend-request…at all…with foregiveness…or by kicking his ass yet again.
    I think it’s a film about the living legend of Facebook that centers on a few pivotal characters in a realworld story — that isn’t really about real people, Truth (that we may or may not be able to handle) nor lies. It’s a film designed to make some money for the people who financed it. It’s also a very smart movie that can’t possibly tell us much about the future/implications of social networking and human relationships. It hasn’t even got much to say about the future of biopic filmmaking, privacy, nor pleasing an entire audience. It’s smart, entertaining and packed with devices meant to engage our attention like the jaws of a pit bull, but it doesn’t go for our hearts, and it’s not about the future of communication. It’s a blisteringly-intelligent and ingenious use of yesterday’s tools to tell us a tale of yesterday. I found it very cool, but fairly heartless — and it marginalize the real-live Mark Zuckerberg in a manner quite similar to the way Facebook marginalized Edouardo Saverin.

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