Movie Review: The Social Network

I popped along to see The Social Network last night ahead of its opening this coming weekend.

The first ten minutes of The Social Network that machine gun you, but the next two hours that make you bleed. We meet young Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) trying to impress the object of his affections, but in typical Zuckian fashion he muddles it up. Except that this really doesn’t seem like the real Zuck. It’s now you realise that you’re in an Aaron Sorkin movie, and his stamps his authority all over the scene before rushing us headlong into his retrospective of Zuck’s rise and/or fall.

thesocialnetwork_posterThe movie is billed as a fast-paced retelling of the birth of Facebook from a socially-aware closed Harvard site to the monolith it is today. But really, it’s not. It’s story about friendship. Sorkin’s eye for detail gives the story of Zuck, an outsider that craves acceptance in the Harvard U’s Lord of the Flies-esque social structure the only way he knows how – by redefining the social experience of love, life and sex in an online community. Yes, sex. It’s all about sex.

Sorkin constructs the story around depositions given during intellectual property lawsuits by Zuck’s former friends and college colleagues on the ownership of Facebook. We skip between the principles’ angles, trying to make out the real Zuck. By the end of the movie, we’re probably further away from that goal but the ride is fun and feels real.

Further away from the real Zuck? From the Winklevii twins’ idea of build Harvard Connection of employing Zuck as a programmer to the early days of incorporation with best friend Eduardo, we see Zuck scheming, ducking and diving. As unrepentant as Eisenberg’s Zuck is, I can’t help feeling that real Zuck is missing. Or rather, Sorkin can’t quite divorce his ambition to breath life and give words to Zuck, that he’s lost the real story in a He Said, She Said.

Eisenberg’s unsympathetic portrayel of Sorkin’s Zuck is refreshing but its missing heartbeat. Pitched against his former best friend, Eduardo Saverin (James Garfield), the first investor and CFO of the company – we’re regaled into hating Zuck and cheering Saverin.

It’s as if Sorkin’s Zuck’s super-human determination to build on the success of is mutually-exclusive to his humanity. In the end, we struggle to label the biggest asshat in the movie – Zuck, Parker, Saverin or maybe Sorkin for taking his liberties.

Sorkin is eager to pitch heroes and villains. His broad strokes touch all of the mains, Sean Parker, the Winklevii and Eduardo Saverin. This simplistic iconography is a minor tinny note in a rather excellent movie. The best film I’ve seen this year bar none.

Fincher’s direction is restrained, he stays true to the inventive fevour that programming rewards its maker. The scene of Zuck implementing the Relationship Status feature feels respectful. Almost Jason Bourne-like. The tilt-shift rowing scene is another favourite of mine. It’s cinematography and meaning foreshadowing the Winklevii’s inevitable fate as well as counterpointing the constant intellectual battlefield we’re witnessing, deftly.

The soundtrack by NiN’s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is a neat post-modern bow on the package, with the opening piano refrain echoing listlessly throughout the movie, as much as Eisenberg’s Zuck does.

Definitely my movie of the year, it’s not the retelling of the Facebook story, but rather a retelling of it.

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