Directed by: David Fincher
Premise: Based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, the film is a dramatization of the founding of Facebook and the legal battle that ensued between those involved.
What Works: The Social Network is partly a going-into-business plot and a coming-of-age story but there is a lot more going on in the film just below its surface. Director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have made the story of the creation and litigation of Facebook into a microcosm of where American culture has shifted in the past decade. The Social Network tracks the evolution of Facebook from a campus fad to a global juggernaut and its creators from naïve idealists to corporate CEOs. But the film is no Horatio Alger success story, and something The Social Network does in an exemplary way is to force the characters to face the perils of victory and succumb to the isolation and paranoia that financial success can bring. The Social Network also shows how the culture has been changed by online communication from blogging to the change in our everyday language. The film also captures the nastiness that faceless digital communication fosters and makes the audience sympathize with the targets of that antisocial behavior. There are a number of standout performances here including Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin and Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker. The acting revelation in The Social Network is Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Einsenberg is on fire in this movie, constantly delivering Aaron Sorkin’s sharp dialogue with an appropriately patronizing and arrogant tone. Yet, Eisenberg also captures the subtle sadness of his character. As presented in this film, Zuckerberg is a brilliant computer programmer and a shrewd businessman, but there is also a nagging loneliness about him and an irony to his narrative that raises The Social Network from a coming of age story up to the realm of tragedy.
What Doesn’t: The only area in which The Social Network suffers is when the film succumbs to a geeks-versus-jocks paradigm. The film doesn’t do it too much but it would have been helpful if it had given a little more credit or characterization to the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) as they fight the success of Zuckerberg and his friends.
Bottom Line: The Social Network is one of the best pictures that David Fincher has directed. It is also an important film that uses the story of Facebook to show us where we are as a culture.
Episode: N/A (October 10, 2010)