This is a guest post by Callum Healy. He once updated Facebook to say: “is the master of karate and friendship for everyone.”Let’s get one thing straight before I dive in to tell you all about The Social Network; I didn’t go in with high hopes.
I know the film is somewhat drooled over by critics across the board, has a 97% ‘Fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, nominations for a multitude of awards (including Best Picture and Best Actor at the Oscars), 100% review rating by TopCritic, far too many 5 Star reviews on its front cover and was awarded Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review, making it only the third film in history (after Schindler’s List and L. A. Confidential) to sweep all in one fell swoop, but there was something wrong about it from the start. That’s right, I know all that.
After getting over the toiling opening sequence of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) breaking up with his girlfriend (who he seems to care about far more than the audience can hope to), I was left with what seemed to be a bromance drama weaved into the story of the foundations of Facebook.
Eisenberg gives a great performance here – his Oscar nomination doesn’t seem far-fetched. His character is somewhat of an anti-hero, often described as “a complete asshole” by most characters outside of his rather small circle of friends. He portrays Zuckerberg as as Harvard’s coldest sociopath, rarely showing any sign of emotion throughout this feature, which I cannot help but feel is somewhat divergent from the truth.
The direction is fantastic. David Fincher, who has given us movies such as Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac, does not disappoint.
While the backdrop is the picture-perfect hallowed grounds of Harvard, he works with it and paints a picture of the programmers forever being ‘wired in’ to their code instead of getting in on the coke orgies and frat parties that we are reminded are apparently neverending at Harvard. This does not interrupt the flow of the film, nor does the bouncing back and forth between court cases suing Zuckerberg for his [Ed's note: alleged] intellectual property theft. It seems, however, that as Fincher offered one of the resounding movies of Generation X with Fight Club, that he is consciously attempting the same here for Generation Y.
The soundtrack is an amazing pulse of strength. Trent Reznor should be commended for it, whilst the forever-likeable Kevin Spacey’s production notes on the script can be seen a mile off.
If you are looking for some sort of visceral ride showing the ups and downs of the creation of Facebook, then you are looking in the wrong place. In fact, if you are looking for that, then you should probably look in the mirror and ask yourself some serious questions. This is more a movie reflecting on the over-dramaticised times of a man with an idea and how that spreads through him and takes over his life, for better or for worse.
All of the components are there. A renowned director, beautiful music, amazing performances a well-written script, yet still there is something missing. There is no connection to the priveledged. We are not sucked into their characters. Maybe that’s the problem, maybe the issue is that they are not likeable; but maybe that’s more the real Zuckerman’s problem than The Social Network’s.