Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Looking Back At...

'The Social Network' 
(dir: David Fincher, 2010)

After recently finding my original review for David Fincher's Facebook flick on the first search page of Google, I felt compelled to watch the surprise film of 2010 for a fourth time, and after being transported back to those bitter courtrooms, alcohol-filled dorm-rooms and that lavish California office, I decided it was fitting to write an article about this magnificent picture.

 It seems so rare to actually find a simplistic story about honesty and betrayal nowadays - these emotions and this idea is as old as cinema, as old as literature, and yet it is a tremendous difficultly to actually discover such a film. 'The Social Network' filled that void and proved that pure cinematic storytelling is still a possibility. For a picture which is dubbed as the "Facebook movie", it's incredible just how insignificant the themes regarding the multi-billion dollar website empire actually are. Primarily Fincher's film, aided by Aaron Sorkin's masterful script is about two ordinary boys who discover and create something extraordinary causing them to be defined by it, but the film's fundamentals are structured by friends and foes, loyalty and betrayal, secrets and lies. If one was to strip away the Facebook element, virtually any other idea could be put in it's place.

 However that's not to say this film isn't original, far from it - although it is based on Ben Mezrich's 'The Accidental Billionaires' (which I have read and it's fantastic), this film fails to follow suit of every other rivalry picture and consequently bursts at the seams with uniqueness. Whether this be due to the constantly quotable, whip-smart dialogue, the sheer believability of the performances or because this classic storytelling arc has footing in 21st Century culture, 'The Social Network' feels as ripe on repeat viewings as it did when one first experienced it at the cinema almost a year ago.

 Films like this, like 'Inception' and many other great pictures of 2010 are a reminder of just how wonderful blockbuster cinema can be if a little hard work, brain power and passion is rolled into a project. Admittedly, Fincher's film is hardly a big-budget CGI festival, but it is a beautiful spectacle that captures the essence of Harvard university as well as the nature of growing into the shoes of a billionaire. This film proves that a character study is just as thrilling, explosive and engaging as any other monstrous feature that swallows up the box-office, and this has been proved again in 2011 by the incredible 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'.

 Personally, I have always been a huge fan of Jesse Eisenberg as I adore American Indie cinema, and I frequently recall being at the foot of a joke for liking "such a nervous, one-dimensional wreck who plays the same character over and over". With this picture and indeed other works, Eisenberg has proven to those who doubted him that he is a supremely talented actor and that he is not a 'one-trick pony'. 'The Social Network' is so far away from his other, more 'usual' roles, yet it seems impossible to picture any other actor who could play Mark Zuckerberg and could dramatise his mannerisms, his dress sense and indeed his outlooks on wealth. Eisenberg is an actor who is grounded, uninterested by fame and driven by his work, much like Zuckerberg. The Facebook creator takes little to no pride in his achievements and proves this by his incredible generosity and his considerably frank approach to being an internet entrepreneur.

 Admittedly Zuckerberg wasn't entirely in favour of the film adaptation of 'his' story - he frequently responded to questions about making a Facebook film by saying "I just wished that nobody would have made a movie of me while I was still alive", and he was not overly keen on the anti-hero and rather dim light he as a person and character was portrayed in the picture. Considering Eisenberg or Andrew Garfield never met Zuckerberg or Eduardo Saverin in person (Justin Timberlake did meet Sean Parker after agreeing to the role), it's deeply impressing just how well the pair captured their real-life counterparts. After watching an abundance of interviews with Zuckerberg and Saverin online, it's simply uncanny just how natural the performers feel.

 For many, 'The Social Network' was the film of 2010 including top critics such as Roger Ebert and Peter Travers - my personal favourite was 'Inception' and I placed Fincher's masterpiece third - just millimetres behind 'Toy Story 3'. However, unlike some of the other films from last year, this movie has tremendous staying power and gains much higher merits for this honour. It's a film that always grips, thought-provokes and causes the sides to spilt, and consequently is something to cherish and treasure for many more years to come.

Gretchen: 18,000 dollars?
Eduardo Saverin: Yes.
Gretchen: In addition to the $1,000 you'd already put up?
Eduardo Saverin: Yes.
Gretchen: A total of $19,000 now?
Eduardo Saverin: Yes.
Mark Zuckerberg: Hang on...[Mark sarcastically adds the two figures together on his notepad]
Mark Zuckerberg: I'm just checking your math on that...Yes I got the same thing.

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