The Social Network ★★★★★

Imagine a jigsaw, a 2000 piece puzzle that takes a month to complete. It’s fun and the finished image is truly beautiful but once done, you destroy it, mix it all up and start again. This time it takes a couple of weeks. It makes more sense, the patterns are more familiar although the challenge remains, and the resulting image really is stunning. Once again, you complete it and destroy it and start over. Now it takes a week. It feels good doing it and the image continues to blow the mind right out of your butt. But you destroy it again, only to crave that end product now it's over. You crave it....... It only takes a day or two now, your eyes sprint over the pieces, your fingers move, find and press as if on auto-pilot and the picture forms with a satisfying fluidity - there it is, it’s splendid!. Remember Vincent Vega with the gold-lit briefcase? - that splendid. But again, as before, you obliterate it. Now out of habit, but partly due to your fascination with the intricate process involved in its creation. Complete & destroy, complete & destroy. You start again. You start again. You start again… you have to see that image.

Again.

My rambling (okay pretentious!) puzzle yarn is a way I can in someway describe the lasting appeal of Fincher’s best films (For me, Zodiac, Se7en and this). When I think about them enough, I have an insatiable urge to watch them - to see that brilliant complete image. Between watches though, and probably due to there being so many elements that make it work, I tend the forget some of the wonderful smaller details. I lose some of the joins and forget the lines so re-watching the film is to make the puzzle once more.

Its exhausting in the most enjoyable sense of the word.

Fincher’s craft here, along with the majestic writing (in this case Aaron Sorkin) provides a scene by scene, minute by minute depth that I don’t see often. They’re like great albums with no filler (Television’s Marquee Moon or Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 for example). Barely a moment is wasted - every piece, every scene, every line is crucial to its overall effect.

I love the intro to The Social Network, it’s one of my favourites of any film. A series of shots over the credits, you see the architecture of the University Buildings alongside shots of the bustling bars and pubs all filmed as a beautiful bruise, and little Mark Zuckerberg runs back to his dorm right through it. You hear the natural sounds of people, a violist, cars driving by. Student noise. Normality prevails. But underneath that is a tremendous Reznor/Ross score. A simple, repeated piano line that’s moody, pensive and sad. It feels like it doesn’t belong here - the music is an outsider. Then further on, that low bass-synth drops beneath those high ghostly reverberations and it wouldn’t seem out of place in a horror movie. It hints at something coming, or becoming.

I suppose Facebook can be a little frightening sometimes.

It’s remarkable using it here. It’s jarring but somehow feels (feels being the operative word) so....correct! It’s a brave, smart choice from a director floating along the peak of his powers and the movie is full of them.

So many pieces, there’s a directorial flourish over there, gorgeous cinematography over here, a great performance on one side and a beautiful turn of phrase on the other….it’s brimming with ideas both technically and with its dialogue. Kudos to the actors too for having to chew their way around that dramatic, slippery language. There’s a great line, a snide word or a powerful retort in close to every scene. It’s scathing and the delivery (no doubt honed through Fincher’s infamous take workout) is so good it’s addictive. Standing tall above them all is of course, Mark Zuckerberg's alter ego Jesse Eisenberg. He will never be more suited to material than he is here. It’s a perfect and perfectly horrible performance. You love to hate him and vice versa.

David Fincher’s The Social Network is an important film by an important film-maker depicting the birth of an inescapable culture. For better or worse, we’re living amidst the Facebook generation and 10 years on - it’s more frightening and invasive than ever, while the film gets better and better.

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