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Film Review: The Social Network

Posted 43 months ago|4 comments|1,106 views
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Ian Forbes
San Diego, CA
Whenever someone ascends to a position of fame, wealth and power, it's inevitable that their journey will be scrutinized and eventually compiled into a film. Such is the case with Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook, and is the subject of director David Fincher's "The Social Network".

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin based the script on Ben Mezrich's book, "The Accidental Billionaires"; in which Zuckerberg is painted as a huge, mega, large, gigantic jerk. This definitely isn't a straight tale of how Facebook transitioned from a Harvard University student connection site into the 500 million member strong conglomeration it has become today. It interweaves Zuckerberg's creation of the social network with two lawsuits launched against him over intellectual property rights and shady startup practices.

On the plus side, Sorkin manages to throw in a number of clever lines – mostly for Armie Hammer's amazing depiction of twin brothers (yes, he played them both; with help from actor Josh Pence and some CGI). Of course, for those fluent in Sorkinese, his involvement also means that every once in a while, the dialogue becomes too clever. This is most notable in a few of the superfluous scenes, thrown in to help make side characters not feel so much like plot devices within the "dump on Zuckerberg" parade that Fincher and his team have compiled.

As for the actors, most of them do a solid job. Andrew Garfield, playing Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, gives yet another solid performance and is the wet blanket to Zuckerberg and his newfound BFF, Sean Parker (who founded Napster). Playing Parker is Justin Timberlake, who does a decent job but at times it was hard to separate the celebrity from the character. The aforementioned Hammer provides much needed levity to the project as a whole and Rooney Mara helped the script highlight Zuckerberg's social ineptitude.

However, the lead actor is also the reason the film as a whole never resonated for me: Jesse Eisenberg. In interviews I looked at online, Zuckerberg is a little awkward but it comes off more about being shy or nervous than some form of autism. And while Eisenberg bears a good resemblance to the face of Facebook, he also plays him like someone diagnosed with Asperger's sydnrome. In the film, he often will not make eye contact, rattles off information like the words are on fire in his mouth and in general, Eisenberg fails to find the right balance between his own awkward style and the a-hole he's written to be in the script. It takes certain timing to adequately deliver Sorkin's material and Eisenberg doesn't have it.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the entire film is the score, done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. They add a wonderful ominous tone to the project, which Nine Inch Nails fans will quickly pick up, and the pair even do a nice job of putting their spin on established pieces like Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King"; which is used during a rowing scene to great effect.

Fincher also nicely, and subtly, uses special effects here as he did in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". While that film painstakingly portrayed Brad Pitt's reverse aging, the problem being overcome through digital wizardry this go around is having one actor play both twins. This is done seamlessly and if one were not told, you'd think that Hammer really did have an identical sibling.

Still, when picking which Facebook film to see this year, I'd pick "Catfish" in a heartbeat. Yes, they are completely different genres and questions but Fincher's one-sided bio pic left me feeling annoyed and so I can only give the film a 3 out of 5. Most of the performances are fine, the technical aspects are okay and I enjoyed Reznor and Ross' score; but Eisenberg's inability to shed his autistic approach to Zuckerberg kept me on the outside looking in.

- This review courtesy of The Sobering Conclusion.
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COMMENTS
43 months ago: interesting. Looking forward to seeing it. Opening across the pond next week, so guess I'll have to wait till then. Sure you know, most reviews have been falling over themselves with praise, which makes me suspicious.
Ian Forbes
Ian Forbes
San Diego, CA
43 months ago: Yeah, I was blown away by the uniformity among national critics as well as those here in the San Diego area I talked to. I do think the film is good, just not THAT good. Hope you enjoy it, Veronika.
43 months ago: I was sitting in the theater today watching SOCIAL NETWORK and I turned to my husband and said, " Does this guy have Aspergers?". I came home and googled to see if there was a connection and your review popped up. I completely agree that Eisenberg's portrayal of Zuckerberg comes off as someone on the spectrum. There was even a line in the movie about him not being a "hugger". Now the idea of someone who has Aspergers (trouble with social situations) to become obsessed with developing a "social network" is an interesting dynamic, but I became distracted by the performance. Overall it was a good movie, but yes...not THAT good.
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Ian Forbes
Ian Forbes
San Diego, CA
43 months ago: Glad to see someone else saw the oddities in Eisenberg's portrayal. A few of the other critics I talked to didn't see it the same way ... hence they liked the overall film much more. Thanks, Sari!

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