feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
Imagine a world with no Facebook. It's pretty unbelievable isn't it. It has made such an impact on contemporary society that for most people, it becomes a necessity. The point of the social networking site is to see what your "friends" are doing and bring each other closer together. After watching this film, I found that idea to be pretty ironic.
The Social Network was based on a novel by Ben Mezrich entitled "The Accidental Billionaires". The book was adapted by screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, who has made a name for himself with works like A Few Good Men, The West Wing, and Moneyball. Currently this is the only product that I have seen from him, so I cannot comment on the trademarks and styles that he commonly employs in his films. I can definitely say that he has written a wonderful script. The Social Network touches on the themes of friendship, betrayal, social acceptance, pride, and success. The film could have focused on the much bigger idea, the origin, success and impact of Facebook. Instead Sorkin wanted the film to be more personal and intimate. I cannot say how much of the film is accurate to reality or to the source material, as I am ignorant of Facebook or Zuckerberg's story. The Social Network focuses on it's creator, Mark Zuckerberg. It details about the beginnings of the product , and what's surprising about it was that it didn't take the capitalist approach that is commonly found in most success stories. Instead it creates all of this psychological and emotional issues with our protagonist and have that be the fuel for success. It never was about gaining the most profits. It was about being cool; It was about fixing the reputation that he made for himself; It was about being better. Facebook was a symbol of a boy's frustration and the filling of a void, through the gain of "friends", that was emptied from a collapsed relationship. Sorkin wanted Facebook to be the reason for Zuckerberg's failure in his personal life, and the road towards this self-destruction made the tale all the more interesting. We always assume that this man must be the luckiest and happiest person in the world because he gained so much wealth from it, but we never really considered what he lost from it. Sorkin doesn't give us an ending that might please us, but if we think about it, why would he? The ending of Facebook and Zuckerberg has yet to be written and it's impact is all around us. If there was something in Sorkin's writing that I would praise the most, it's his ability to write great dialogue. It fills the scene with lightning speed and doesn't sacrifice intensity and weight with it. The banter alone at the start of the film is evident enough of how great his writing is, it introduces and defines the character in a matter of minutes, letting the film move along and focus on it's story.
The film was directed by David Fincher, who I consider to be one of the greatest directors of the 21st century, though some of his best work was found in the last decade before the turn of the century. The Social Network was a big surprise for me, as a few of Fincher's films have addressed the current state of society and the subject of this film would have been a great example in exploring that concept again. Instead he takes a left turn, stripping all of that and creating something small and private. Fincher has been known to make films with a dark atmosphere, aside from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I think he likes to explore the dark and untouched layers of humans, because maybe it leads to a much more tense and interesting story, or maybe he just wants to be unique, or maybe he resents the false illusion of happiness in people's lives. On my previous review, I accused this film of being light and more happy, but the more I watched it, the more I started to peel and find the layers in the film's characters and saw something that was more darker and sorrowful than what was projected. Fincher has taken a product that is generally known for bringing people closer together, and viewing it as a source of a person's self destruction. This is the reason why I love Fincher's work because he always creates something that we don't really expect, leaving us shocked and surprised until the credits roll. Though the film has it's dark moments, Fincher doesn't forget the essence of Facebook, youth. The film feels youthful, it's slick and cool, and moves at an intensely fast pace. Fincher gives this film so much energy that it makes Sorkin's script come alive, and it also makes for an entertaining film. The film was able to give off this aura of intellect but it never goes to a point of condescension or pretension, allowing the film to retain this accessibility, which has made me come back to it time and time again.
Jeff Cronenweth has done three films with David Fincher; Fight Club, The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I felt this was his most safest compared to the three. It's very focused on capturing the drama rather than being something different and off the wall. The title sequence, where Zuckerberg runs through the campus of Harvard and the final shot that slowly zooms in on Zuckerberg's face, was shot beautifully. His sad facial expression as the last statement is placed on screen before the credits, "Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in the world", and along with the intimate and slow zooming photography just expresses the burden that his own creation has caused. Cronenweth, especially in the legal side of things, create this golden aura. Does that symbolise the fight for greed with these characters? Does the room radiate success, I am not quite sure, but maybe as I watch the film more, it would start to become more clear to me. The film may not reach the darkness that is found on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or Fight Club, but it is still present here in correlation with the pessimistic depth this film contains. Cronenweth's work on this one is not something that I would remember as much but it does apply appropriately to the drama.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' work on this film is definitely a plus for me. There was a composition that plays after Zuckerberg's break up with Albright (Rooney Mara) that combines razor violins that haunts the track with a piano that is feels so simple and delicate. It not only sets the film up to a sad start but it also enhances certain moments in the film that make the drama even more dramatic, particularly the scene where Garfield walks up to Zuckerberg and smashes his computer and having an argument. That particular scene is the final cut in their relationship that destroyed their friendship, the ultimate betrayal. That particular composition is used in scenes where Zuckerberg has lost someone important in his life. It is heartbreaking to listen to.
Both Garfield and Eisenberg gave their most emotionally driven performances I have ever seen. I don't know if it's accurate or not but it doesn't matter as long as their performance drives the story forward and that they are believable in their roles. I felt that Garfield should have been nominated for a supporting actor at the Academy Award as his performance dominates everyone else in this film. Justin Timberlake in this film plays Sean Parker efficiently, he knows how to convincingly act like a jackass. It was a character though I did not like when on screen as I felt he was written to unlikable but I guess that was the point. Rooney Mara's character is a crucial piece but she was a little underused in this film, all is well though cause she has a leading role in Fincher's next film. This film definitely proved that both Garfield and Eisenberg has acting chops and are Oscar worthy.
It is too soon to say whether or not this film's significance and power will continue to radiate in the years to come. But I wouldn't be surprised if this film would be end up becoming a classic in the near future.