Ian Fastert’s review published on Letterboxd:
Hole. Lee. Shit.
I watched it again and I'm...I'm speechless.
The Social Network, which is, in case you missed it, a movie about making FUCKING FACEBOOK, is a masterpiece of cinema, a film that has some of the best, most complex characters I've seen in any medium, one of the best scores of this decade being woven expertly into the film by a filmmaker who knows what he's doing, written by probably the best working screenwriter, and being performed by some really really good actors, and also Justin Timberlake, who acts goddamn CIRCLES around everyone else.
And everyone else is doing amazing. It's a marvel.
Honestly, it's a miracle this movie got made. The amount of stretching they had to do, how much they had to get around the real life figures who probably didn't want to be portrayed like this, like humans, these flawed, flawed people. Are they overdramatized in the film? Absolutely. But that feels like the point. The Social Network is a film that could be a stage play, and a damn good one, yet it takes advantage of the medium of film to make something more special than that. The shots, the way David Fincher keeps it shot-reverse shot until delivering the final blow, that big gut punch with a close up, the way the music ramps up and suddenly disappears, the use of COLOR! The Social Network may take it's cues from the playwrights of old with the way it creates these broken people and adds so many layers to them, but it makes them feel so, so relatable to us. Think the complexity of a Shakespeare character, with the modern problem of being lonely other than the internet.
.....which I have, as I am spending my Friday night writing a review alone in my basement.
The way the whole thing builds up is fucking orgasmic. It starts off with a big gut-punch, but then recedes so that it can catch you up on the events and create these character relationships so that later on when shit goes haywire it hits SO. HARD. And the way Fincher takes advantage of his framework (Zuckerberg is talking through the story during his two lawsuits that he faces in the present day), cutting back to the past and the present for the maximum emotional effect, is jawdropping. The way he makes the smallest things feel so intense, so real, is amazing, and I'm just so glad that he has improved this much from the only other work of his I've seen, Fight Club, which is by no means a bad movie, but has problems picking the tone it wants. The Social Network blends tragedy, comedy, suspense, themes of friendship, love, pain, loneliness, everything all into this one perfect package.
The cast, again the cast is phenomenal; Andrew Garfield's Edwardo makes you want to cry or hug him every time he's on screen, his stare just stabs you though the heart. He feels so innocent, so pure. He doesn't deserve to be treated the way he does, and he sells that to you. Jesse Eisenberg gives a stellar performance as the well-meaning asshole Mark Zuckerberg, who sums up his entire character with the way he's presented through the story; he makes a terrible first impression, yet, as you get to know him, you learn about his vulnerable side, his flaws. Is he a bad person? I need to think about it more. There's enough debate for both sides, and that they managed to walk that line this close is a feat in it of itself.
And of course, there's Justin Timberlake's Sean Parker, a weak, manipulative coward who suckers Mark in with his intelligence and business strategies, but reveals himself to be a vapid loser (There's a Fight Club comparison to be made there, but that's probably for a long form essay). Justin Timberlake, someone who most people probably think of as being this way in real life, proves that he's either really self aware of that or just can act like it's no one's business, because his performance is...I mean I already said it, it's fantastic. He acts like this wise, elderly mentor that can give Mark everything he needs, and even have some fun doing so, but he does none of that. If this is Aaron Sorkin's callout to the success stories of Silicon Valley, then he makes his stance on them VERY loud and clear.
It's the stuff of dreams, folks. A film who's parts come together to form a whole that is transcendent of everything around it. That some people think of it as "the Facebook movie with Lex Luthor" is a travesty. That some people won't give it a chance because they don't care about Facebook is depressing. It's not a film about Facebook. It's a film about friendship, betrayal, loneliness, and love.
And it lost to the fucking King's Speech.