“The Social Network”
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Showing at: Area theaters
When critics began comparing “The Social Network” to “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane“ — perennial contenders for the title of Greatest Movie Ever Made — the indelible words of Flavor Flav started ringing in my ears. “Don’t believe the hype,” the clock-adorned Muppet whined.
Such bold declarations can usually be chocked up to pandering and critical knob-jobbery, but “The Social Network” is actually worthy of praise. “The Godfather,” it is not, but this film gives us insight into the origins of what is arguably the most important creation of the new millennium, and it captivates while doing so.
The movie takes us back to Cambridge in 2003, when a young Mark Zuckerberg — future co-founder of Facebook and the youngest billionaire of all time — is engaged in a type of hyper-literate verbal sparring match not seen since the end of “Gilmore Girls.” The dialogue is punchy and quickly details Zuckerberg’s personality: He’s absurdly smart, quasi-cool in his nerdiness and a bit of a prick.
After pissing off his opponent/girlfriend, he returns home and, fueled by drunken machismo, hacks Harvard’s student databases and creates a website that allows students to vote on the hotness of their female classmates. It’s offensive, misogynistic and it gets Zuckerberg into plenty of trouble, both legal and social. But it also sows the seeds of Facebook.
Zuckerberg’s subsequent rise to power is saturated with moments of innovative brilliance, dumb luckand ruthless betrayal, which in many ways validates the “Kane” and “Godfather” references. To be clear, “The Social Network” is on a tier lower than those two films, but its themes and its presentation are undeniably similar.
Director David Fincher, working off a script by “The West Wing” maestro, Aaron Sorkin, presents much of the story in flashback form, bouncing between later litigation and Facebook’s infancy. This non-linear storytelling, combined with the tycoon protagonist and a sense of loss amongst riches, does invite “Citizen Kane” and “Godfather” comparisons. Still, Fincher retains his own cinematic style, painting Zuckerberg’s life in murky hues and dipping into the Welles vault of tricks only when need be. Employing Trent Reznor’s score bolsters the overarching darkness with ominous undercurrents and walls of throbbing industrial noise.
Yet Fincher’s greatest feat is the way he humanizes each character, instilling the multifarious and contradictive qualities of their real-life counterparts. There’s no easy villain here, no easy hero. Zuckerberg, former partner Eduardo Saverin, the homo superior Winklevoss brothers and the like are depicted with an amount of nuance that’s rarely matched in cinema.
Sorkin shares some of the credit, as does the standout cast headed by Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg gets to do his patented fast-talkin’ routine, but trades in kindly Cera-esque awkwardness for blatant insensitivity. Zuckerberg is a complex figure, and Eisenberg sells his genius, his drive and his bitterness. Andrew Garfield imbues Saverin with a spirit of grief that’s affecting when it isn’t maudlin, while Justin Timberlake makes Napster mastermind Sean Parker both slick and sleazy.
“The Social Network” is already being hailed by some as the defining film of our generation. While that’s certainly a case of over-hyping, it doesn’t detract from what is an expertly crafted film.
Nominate an exceptional graduating senior for the upcoming Ski-U-Mah Issue!
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
Minneapolis Used Cars
Give back to the Minnesota community with a boat donation at boat4causes.org.
If you have been involved in a car accident call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free consultation.