‘The Social Network’

David Fincher’s documenting of the founding of Facebook is an instant classic.

People by and large don’t know what irony means, or at least they don’t know how to use it (it isn’t a traffic jam when you’re already late). Part of the irony about this, ‘The Facebook Movie’ is that it’s not strictly about Facebook. This is not the precursor to Michael Bay’s exploration of Amazon.com or James Cameron’s 3D eBay film. Both of which are currently being pitched as movies to be shown in Hell.

The irony is that a website about friendship was founded by someone who was about as socially inept as was humanly possible; the other irony is that a website devoted to being social actually has a tendency to remove the personal interaction aspect of friendship itself. But we’ll leave that to the baby boomers to whinge about.

I’ve discovered a few things I wasn’t privy to earlier – one is that Jesse Eisenberg is a superb actor. Two, that Justin Timberlake is a superb actor. And three, that it’s possible to make a film about the founding of a website, as a kind of thriller, wherein the MacGuffin is an algorithm written on a window. It turns out that the end product, directed with immeasurable confidence by David Fincher, is kind of era-defining, a film that captures the zeitgeist in a way that few others have since, well, David Fincher directed Fight Club in 1999.

The Social Network is, from first viewing, a flawless piece of work. The characterizations of computer geeks, their world view, being on the outer of a clique or cool circle at college/university has such raw emotional truth to it. Some have criticized the way women are portrayed, but if you’ve ever known someone who’s better at talking to machines than he is people, you know what role women play in the lives of a geek. I don’t have enough information about whether or not they’re adhering to the facts or characterizations of the people in the film – this is neither here nor there. I wasn’t at Harvard in 2003, so I have no way of knowing. But the film speaks volumes of emotional truth; it’s entirely plausible, and it’s wholeheartedly entertaining. Which is the whole point.

What’s most admirable about the film is Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay and the way the cast delivers his lines. There are a couple of moments in the film where the scenes play so successfully, you’re blown away like you just saw a centrepiece from a big-budget action film. His dialogue is so cutting, so smart and fast – it’s one of the best, most beautifully written and quotable screenplays I’ve ever seen produced.

All other aspects of the film are first rate: Trent Reznor’s score, the editing, the way Fincher structures Sorkin’s narrative; the visual effects that render one actor (Armie Hammer) as two people in the Winklevoss twins. All incredible.

Superlatives don’t cover it. Stone solid brilliant film.

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