Sunday, 17 October 2010

REVIEW: The Social Network

From whence Facebook came.

There's a darkness to the nerd. The thing that drives them to consume and memorise the titles of all 726 episodes of Star Trek, the thing that drives them to know everything there is to know about Xeon 3500 quad-core processors and the thing that drives them to invent, form and run billion dollar companies doesn't necessarily come from the most warm and fuzzy place. It can come from a deep resentment, a ferocious hate toward the world they can't connect with, the people they cant understand and the attention they haven't received. The Social Network explores this, for all its other attributes, with greater insight and aptitude then any film I can recently remember, showing how this rage that dare not speak its name can drive a person to spectacular and terrible things.

The Social Network's opening fifteen minutes is, for the lack of a better word, kind of a masterpiece of all the things that when they work like this, can make the cinema such a scintillating place to be. It probably starts with Aaron Sorkin's writing which is just as witty and cutting and as intelligent, pitching a scene in which Mark Zuckerberg (the astounding Jesse Eisenberg, whose never been this good by a long shot.) gets dumped by girlfriend Rooney Mara. Zuckerberg talks but never really listens, jumps on slights but ignores compliments and is the worst kind of asshole, a self-absorbed dick who says his girlfriend doesn't have the right to dump him because she attends a lesser university. Its an electrifying and almost horrifying scene, featuring what I've no doubt will be the best work of Eisenberg's career. Zuckerberg then trashes his girlfriend online and sets up the site Facemash, in which people can rate the hotness of Harvard Undergrads in a drunken misogynistic rage. Its people typing at a laptop, but Fincher makes it play like an action scene, both thrilling and charring.

Its a shame the film never quite lives up to its opening after that, it becomes slightly more conventional, playing as a more familiar deposition room drama, albeit a consistently excellent one with some terrific performances, I think both Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield should walk away from this film with Oscar nominations, and Sorkin's victory seems inevitable, but I think the film as a whole falls just short of being the mind-blowingly awesome film I thought it was going to be. Perhaps once it's focus spread from Zuckerberg, to a Rashomon-esque three sides of the story kind of movie, with Zuckerberg being sued by both the Winklevoss twins (Both played amusingly by Armie Hammer) and former partner and best friend Eduardo Savrin ( Garfield). Garfield's character is no doubt the most sympathetic in the movie, but he knocks this one out I think. While the movie belongs to Eisenberg, Garfield gives a performance of such likeable nobility that he deserves almost as much praise. Things fall down a tad with the introduction of Justin Timberlake as internet cool guy Sean Parker too, and while his performance isn't bad, the standard around him is so high that his slightly two-dimensional take looks weak in comparison.

But make no mistake, this is a stellar piece of film-making on all sides, perfectly complimented by Fincher's retrained direction, allowing the words to do their own talking, and the performances to take centre stage. Classy, intelligent stuff to do film-making credit, and to show you the side of nerds that they don't want you to see. Just remember once you walk out, the people who really rule the world are all Mark Zuckerberg. Because what else do they have to do.

Rating: 8/10

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