David Fincher certainly is a malleable director. Some of his most popular movies include Fight Club, Se7en, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; three completely different films, in both genre and tone. The Social Network, however, is arguably his freshest and most ambitious work thus far. It is a dramatic reenactment of the creation of the multi-million dollar social networking website, Facebook. To many people, the premise of this film may sound somewhat unappealing and unnecessary; however, those people are wrong. What Fincher has on his hands here is a tremendous work of cinema, and one of 2010′s greatest movies.
Jesse Eisenberg gives an utterly fantastic performance as Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s best known co-creator. Though on the surface Zuckerberg comes off as a very unemotional and often antisocial person, Eisenberg brings a lot of depth to the character. A great deal of scenes simply focus on his face for several seconds, and just from his eyes one can see how Zuckerberg is both lonely and proud at the same time. He doesn’t really interact well with people and rarely stops using his computer as his main medium of communication, but also takes pride in his achievements. Zuckerberg faces many issues throughout, such as being sued by various people who claim the idea for Facebook was stolen. Even his only friend, Eduardo Severin (a co-creator of Facebook) sues him. By the way, Severin is played here by Andrew Garfield in a tremendous supporting role. The rest of the cast does well, too, especially Justin Timberlake, who plays the founder of the online music service, Napster.
David Fincher’s direction is top-notch, as he criss-crosses the tale between multiple time periods and various characters. The film’s structure is impeccable and flows stunningly well, due to some of the best editing you will see all year (yes, even better than that of Inception). To add to its smooth pacing, the film contains a very lyrical and rocking score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, of Nine Inch Nails fame.
As good as all of the acting, technical mastery, and direction is, the most enjoyable aspect of this film is Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant screenplay. Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s novel The Accidental Billionaires, this is the best written script to make it onto the screen since last year’s Inglourious Basterds. In fact, I cannot remember a movie from recent times that has such fast paced, witty dialogue. From the opening scene (where Zuckerberg’s girlfriend breaks up with him) we can hear how well this screenplay moves along. The audience is never disrespected; technical jargon is not explained for the film-watcher’s benefit (and yes, there is a lot of it), a cliche that would be used in most other films to “dumb it down”. This is also one of the few rare movies where not one moment is wasted; there are no contrived shifts in tone, nor pauses in the dialogue’s breakneck pace. Sorkin has made something that can be compared to the screenplays of classic films such as His Girl Friday or Bringing Up Baby (though this is a lot darker and more serious than those screwball comedies).
The Social Network is a huge success of a film in every way. It is a character study and an ensemble at the same time, and uses some of the best cross-cutting you will ever see. The script is as good as they come, and is surely a shoo-in for the Best Adapted Screenplay category, come Oscars season. Virtually the whole film consists of talking, but is gripping and involving throughout. This marks a huge step up from David Fincher’s previous movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and is one of the best films to come out in while, period. If you have interest in any kind of cinema, “friend” this movie at a theater near you.