'The Social Network' (dir: David Fincher, 2010), Cert: 12A
Director David Fincher brings us his latest film to the big screens, however this movie isn’t about a reverse-ageing man, or a notorious San Francisco serial killer; ‘The Social Network’ is about the creation of Facebook, one of the world’s most visited websites. The film is based on the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich and the screenplay was written by courtroom king Aaron Sorkin, so on the outside, this should be a pretty good picture. However, when I first saw the trailer for the film earlier this year I thought it looked like a terrible idea for a motion picture. Have I been proven wrong?
The film is a Biopic Drama that follows the life and times of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg); a young Harvard Computer student, who on a cold night in 2003, took a seat at his computer and in a drunken and angry haze formed a small social networking site that allowed fellow students to vote on the attractiveness of their female friends. Little did Zuckerberg know that this would soon expand into one of the biggest and important websites ever made; Facebook. Six years later and Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history, but his fortune didn’t come without a price; his best friend and financial supporter Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) sued Zuckerberg for fraud, corporate corruption and false contracts for the sum of $600 million.
The film revolves around the acts that lead up to Zuckerberg’s various court cases and how they have affected his life, wealth and friendships. Writer Aaron Sorkin is famous for his brilliant and compelling tales of politics and court cases with shows like ‘The West Wing’ under his belt, and he really brings all his cards out to play with this movie. The script is incredibly sure-footed and is presented with perfection. The dialogue is witty, cruel and often side-splitting which I didn’t expect at all. Fincher’s direction is to the point and very human; he captures the character’s emotions and actions fantastically which makes the audience really enjoy spending time with these filthy rich twenty-something’s.
The real Mark Zuckerberg had nothing to do with the film and wasn’t very approving of the movie; especially that he’s portrayed in a pretty bad light throughout. He’s the anti-hero; often very funny and charming, but a dark shadow sweeps over him every so often leaving others lost along the way. In one scene when Saverin is explaining about Zuckerberg teaming up with Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), he talks about the changes in shares in the Facebook site. After reeling out stationary figures for every other shareholder, he says how much of his share has changed. The number and Garfield’s deliverance of the line is like a knife to the gut. Every audience member took a huge intake of breath as he uttered the figures, which instantly made Zuckerberg the villain of the story.
The performances in this movie are outstanding; Eisenberg is incredible as Zuckerberg, he’s edgy, charismatic and polite, yet his darker side sometimes gets the better of him. This is one of Eisenberg’s best performances and I think people will start taking him more seriously as an actor now. Garfield is also great as Saverin; he gives a really honest and heart-felt performance that makes you really feel for him as he’s taken for a rough ride along the Facebook wagon. Timberlake is fantastic as Parker; he’s funny, irritating and is a really faithful screen presence of the man behind music mega-site Napster.
Let’s just say I was very wrong about the trailer; ‘The Social Network’ isn’t just a film about Facebook, it’s about people who stumbled upon massive success by basically cyber-bullying. These characters don’t feel like money-ridden scoundrels, their story is an important and influential one and Fincher’s movie has captured it wonderfully. The ironic thing about Zuckerberg in the film is that even though he founded the largest social networking site in history, all he wanted was a friend, and that never really happened. This is a pin-point perfect Biopic that works on multiple levels giving the audience a hilarious and harrowing emotional rollercoaster that will make you desperate to endure it again. ‘The Social Network’ is the surprise film of the year for me and I had a wonderful time watching it. I’m sure it’ll have a high spot in my top 10 of 2010.
Verdict – 5 out of 5: A marvellous achievement in every department; Fincher’s Facebook fable is engaging, immensely watchable and just a sheer delight.
By Chris Haydon