Most of the world has probably already seen this film, but I only got around to it recently, figuring I had to check it out in preparation for my 2010 top ten. I’ve gotta say, whilst it might just miss out – on account of there being so many fantastic films released this year – it’s definitely better than anyone could have imagined a movie about Facebook could be.
Jesse Eisenberg gives one of the performances of the year as wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg, and whilst Time’s magazine’s classification of the real life Zuckerberg as person of the year was a particularly spineless move, Eisenberg is the person holding this film together. His portrayal of Zuckerberg is incredible – his brilliance is tempered only by his arrogance and complete inability to examine his own actions.
Eisenberg is surrounded by a wonderful cast, not the least of which is Rooney Mara. It’s not hard to understand why Fincher has her lined up to be the next Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – indeed, she was the only real reason that this year’s A Nightmare on Elm Street remake was watchable. Andrew Garfield plays Eduardo Saverin, possibly the only nice guy in the entire film, though he would have to be the least interesting character on show. Justin Timberlake is Sean Parker (he of Napster fame) and proves that his great turns in Black Snake Moan and Alpha Dog weren’t a fluke.
David Fincher is in fine form here, and The Social Network is a welcome return to brilliance after his rather pointless last feature, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. As with all his flicks, the picture is beautiful – I don’t know how he does it, but all of Fincher’s films are dark yet at the same time beautifully colourful. Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, who also worked on The Game and Se7en, manages to make two hours of talking heads somehow interesting also.
The Social Network is an absolute gabfest. The opening scene, featuring rapid-fire dialogue between Zuckerberg and Erica Albright (Mara) is but a taste of things to come – honestly, this script must have resembled a phonebook. Aaron Sorkin (of ‘The West Wing’ fame) has written an astoundingly entrancing screenplay about a bunch of very unlikeable young men. It’s to his credit that such a ridiculous idea for a film succeeds.
So why won’t this make my top ten? The thing is, when it all comes down to it, this is still a movie about Facebook. There’s only so much you can achieve from such a starting point. I’ll be curious to see how this film fares in the long run, as it’s impossible to say just how significant the social networking site will be in a decade or two. Imagine if a Myspace film had been made – copies of the DVD would be clogging up the bargain bins right about now…Rating: