The Social Network ★★★★★

Few films have held such a longstanding personal importance in my life than The Social Network. To me, it’s David Fincher’s magnum opus, in no small part due to the breathtaking marriage of Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire screenwriting and Fincher’s cold visual prowess. When I first saw the film in 2011 or 2012, however, I liked it for markedly different reasons. Around 12 and 13, I was just starting to become interested in computer programming, and seeing the way Silicon Valley startups were portrayed in The Social Network – fast-paced, cutthroat, and just plain exciting – I was eager to learn as much as I could about the booming world of computing. At the time, I actually remember identifying an awful lot with Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg – although now of course I find him (and the real Zuckerberg) insufferable. As embarrassing as the truth might be, I would be lying if I don’t attribute at least some of my current status as a graduating senior in computer science to seeing the movie as an early teenager.

I’ve watched The Social Network countless times over the years, probably more than anything else released in the last decade. Each and every time offers something new and rewarding, and I’m consistently amazed by its visual and narrative perfection as I learn more about cinema. It may not be as bold or as historically accurate an effort as ZodiacThe Social Network is based largely on Ben Mezrich’s book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’, a more sensationalist retelling of history than Fincher’s authentic police procedural – but the film nevertheless remains an exceedingly well-crafted tale of fame, fortune, and ruined friendship. If it doesn’t stick to the facts, it certainly sticks to its cold digital heart, and it’s absolutely among the most ominous reflections of the early 21st century zeitgeist.

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