The film delves into the creation of the popular social networking web-site Facebok – via the lawsuits stemming from the web-sites creation - against its “creator” Mark Zuckerberg.
It’s bold and interesting – due to the fact that all these events happened just a few years ago – it’s also a matter of timeliness that really helps give this film a lot of weight. I’m not sure if this film was to come out in 10-years and Facebook isn’t as relevant – that the film would mean the same.
The story isn’t as interesting as the Zuckerberg character and the expert portrayal by Jesse Eisenberg. You present Zuckerberg into these situations – and his actions and motivations are what really carry the film. The obvious question is how can such a socially inept person go on to create the biggest phenomena in social connection since the creation of the internet?
Is it the petty jealousy’s that drives Mark Zuckerberg’s motivations? Is it a complete social incompetence/ignorance that he displays that allows him to do these things seemingly unaffected of consequence? Or is he really a tortured genius that has such a drive that he would steamroll anyone to get to his ends? I think it’s a bit of all of it – which is what makes him such an interesting character that we aren’t treated to such blatant explanations – only hints and innuendos – no sad sack speech explaining it all in the end.
Jesse Eisenberg gives an amazing performance – and though I’m not usually one to pick a favorite in the acting categories during award season – but he’s my pick for every acting award he gets nominated for. The portrayal was frenetic – pitch perfection when it comes to the realistic awkwardness of a nerd – he plays Zuckerberg as motivated, focused and confident - but such a dangerous way – that he seems one step away from being a lunatic that would have a compound out in the woods of Montana. He’s unsympathetic – a true anti-hero – but love him or hate him – he is who he is and he obviously embraces himself – which makes the character portrayal so very interesting.
My only real complaint is with the nothing the film is at fault for. I disagree in quite a few ways with some of the praise I hear regarding the film – not that I didn’t find it to be a great character study film – but in regards to how much it’s compared to the film Citizen Kane. Sure, both films are about a present day mogul – who would be quite embarrassed about how unflattering the film portrays them to be – but only portrays them to be so unflattering because it’s true – but the calls of “revolutionary” as a film, The Social Network is not.
I think that the web-site whose creator is this film’s focus – is revolutionary – so I hope we have the two separated in our minds when critics are spouting this praise. Orson Welles rewrote the handbook of filmmaking with Kane – his use of camera angles, lighting, editing, montage, music, distance – these days you’ve really got to look for these things and realize that this was not commonplace techniques back then – today a massive crane single shot that takes you from the street – up the side of a building – then into the skylight is nothing! Back then, groundbreaking! Films have not been the same since Kane – David Fincher on the other hand gives a tight – well paced - interesting film that is a great movie watching experience – but doesn’t redefine the art of filmmaking itself.
Lest we forget Kane was the work of one man, Welles, who dared thumb his nose at Hearst probably the biggest media mogul of that time – he fought and fought and fought – not only to make the film but to make it the way he envisioned. Not once have I heard of reports that the real life Zuckerberg was gunning for this production – and with how spineless and unoriginal studios seem to be these days – they probably would’ve accepted a bribe to bury this film – and Zuckerberg could afford a tidy sum. The Social Network may be a bold film – but not on any level as bold, groundbreaking or revolutionary as what Kane ended up being.
Fincher directs the film that could easily been a complete lambasting of Zuckerberg into a film that really explores the character and compliments Eisenberg’s performance. The film is fast paced – keeps it entertaining – finds surprising areas for humor to come up naturally – but keeps it bold and serious – but works best with the characters.
Compared to some his previous works – I find the film to be much of the same in deeply exploring a character – but different in the execution. He’s adept at letting the characters tell their own tales – but usually in a slower pace that allows the viewer to walk along with them – in The Social Network – you’ve really got to hang on and if you miss something – that’s all right – it’s not the point – it’s all about the characters telling the story and since it’s intercut with the court proceedings and told in flashbacks – it’s a film of the journey of said characters not so much of the story.
All in all - this is a great film - interesting and fun - I'm giving it full marks and it lands in my Top 5 of the year.
For more on why I don't think this film is justly compared to Kane - please check out my fellow bloggers post who takes a look at the plot - and how it doesn't match up.