“There’s gotta be some kind of land-speed record for talking,” Eduardo Savarin (Andrew Garfield) says to his fellow co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). He is referring to the meeting they just had with Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the chatty founder of Napster; The same could be said about The Social Network, a film that features almost nothing but smug d*cks talking circles around each other, and (seemingly) the audience. If this sounds like I didn’t like the movie, then read the headline, a**hole.
The Social Network is a dazzling piece of filmmaking, with director David Fincher, writer Aaron Sorkin, and the three lead actors absolutely crushing it. This is a movie that feels so well put together, that you want to give an award to the damn caterer.
The movie opens in a scene that reminded me of Pulp Fiction. A couple, hunched over a table in a bar, are having a sort-of passive aggressive argument. The dialog, like in Pulp, pulls you in with it’s almost kinetic energy. The boy, Zuckerberg, prattles on a mile a minute, diving from one subject to the next, while his girlfriend, Rebecca, grows frustrated trying to keep up with him, and annoyed with how insulting his words are to her. The scene concludes with her dumping him with one of the most crushing verbal take-downs I’ve ever seen in a film.*
After drunkenly wandering back to his dorm room, Zuckerberg promptly forgets his ex and happily lives the rest of his life. Just kidding! He continues to drink and blogs some very nasty things about Rebecca. He then spends half the night building a website dedicated to letting students compare how attractive all the girls at Harvard are. He has to hack several in-house websites to get the pictures, and, by dawn, so many students have visited the site that it crashes the Harvard computer network.
This entire sequence should be put into the syllabus of every film-making school in America. It cross-cuts between one of the elite social clubs at Harvard having a very decadent party (Drunk coeds stripping on tables and making out, etc), and these nerds building and publishing a web site. Watching these future tech-kings poring over their computers (and other students being endlessly amused by the site), while their Ivy League brethren live the high-life, you realize Fincher has created a scene (and film) that captures a slice of a generation with an accuracy worthy of Dazed and Confused.
Before I start rambling and just regurgitating the damn plot of the whole movie, I will say that Fincher, Sorkin and Eisenberg all should get Oscars for this. I have always seen Eisenberg as a Michael Cera-type; the nice guy next door who is too quiet for his own good. Here, he is a Great White. Cutting through each scene with a razor sharp tongue, he plays Zuckerberg like a smart-ass android who has been programmed to understand the human condition, but not to give a sh*t about it. You cannot take your eyes off him.
David Fincher, for the record, has never mad a bad film in his 19 years making features. This, however, could be his masterpiece. You won’t find a lot of his little flourishes here (the kind seen in Fight Club and Panic Room). Instead, he almost makes his presence invisible; allowing the story to just tell itself without getting in it’s way. If you think this is easy for a director, try directing a play without the audience knowing that there’s a stage.
I will say one thing about Sorkin’s script: It’s about the creation of a website, and it is as riveting as an action film.
In the end, the film is a lot like that titular site. Deceptively simple in its purpose, but so brilliant in it’s execution that you can’t help be pulled in, and glued to the screen. Friend request it.
- *If you like clever insults, this film has enough to fill a Friars Club Roast
- I like Justin Timberlake’s acting. There, I said it. Between this, the musical scene in Southland Tales, and multiple “SNL” appearances, the guy is just awesome.
- Between the blowjob scene, multiple “f*ck-you’s”and coeds doing coke off each other, I’m not sure how this ended up with a PG-13 rating.
- One downside; this movie will make you feel dumb as hell. And unsuccessful. And broke. Nevermind; f*ck this movie…