Paul Lister’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Drop the "The." Just "Facebook." It's cleaner"
I can still remember reading about David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin teaming up to do a Facebook film and for some reason despite my complete adoration for both men I just couldn't see past "The Facebook Movie", who in their write mind would want to see a film about the invention of Facebook? Well being completely ignorant I had no idea just how compelling a tale it actually was as The Social Network is an almost insidiously told tale about the Mark Zuckerberg's (Jessie Eisenberg) creation of Facebook and the legal battles he would face with his former friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler (both played by Armie Hammer with a little help from Josh Pence). It is a fine character study as well, getting under the skin as to Zuckerberg's motives for creating Facebook, was it jealousy or the need to be recognised, whether that be socially or otherwise.
There are two main area's that come to the fore when thinking about why he wanted to create something like Facebook and both subjects can be traced back to the opening scene. He sits in a crowded, noisy bar with girlfriend Erica Albright and it is very quickly established that Zuckerberg is not exactly a social butterfly, in fact he is a selfish, ignorant, arrogant, elitist and narcissistic asshole, obsessed with the idea of being popular. He does not take well to the insinuation that he would only be capable of getting into the easiest Final's Club of which he is so obsessed about, although the insinuation is more in his own head. This obsession with popularity seems to be a massive driving point for him, being such a geek there must be some part of him that wants to be popular, especially with woman - also how the hell did he end up with a girlfriend as attractive as Rooney Mara?
On the other hand the fact that she breaks up with him there and then also has a big impact, it inspires him firstly to drunkenly blog about her in the most insulting manner possible and also create a website called Face Smash, a way of rating girls attractiveness, after all sex is all anybody wants to know about really. He hacks all the servers and manages to almost crash the servers due to the massive interest the site drums up in the course of one night. The hurt he causes Erika in the process is something he doesn't seem to let go, a botched attempt at apologising to her once Facebook is up and running only spurs him on to achieve greater things, in the hope that forgiveness and recognition will come his way.
The film flirts back and worth ingeniously between the two legal battles he is fighting and the origin of the story and circumstances that have led to these cases against him. Sorkin's script is an absolute zinger with dialogue predictably zippy for him, mixing great humour with sharp and scathing observations. It is fair to say that the actors in the film all step up to the plate as far as delivering the goods are concerned, Eisenberg is outstanding and comes across as truly deplorable, the smartest man in the room who also happens to get manipulated himself by Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), which in turn is the deciding factor in his friendship and partnership with Saverin imploding as it did. Eisenberg also manages to deliver the lines with some real menace as well, there is something so nasty and spiked by what he says to people, whether he is insulting his then girlfriend Erika about her education or making it plainly clear that the Winklevoss's case barely deserves his attention. Andrew Garfield also put him self on the map as one of the top young actors in the World in my opinion with his portrayal of Saverin, here is a man who stood by Zuckerberg, who was happy to be his friend when nobody else would, he also backed him financially. Garfield brilliantly shows the hurt and dismay that betrayal and deception had on him. Timberlake was a great surprise to, a fact that Fincher is able to bring out performances from people you wouldn't normally expect them from. Parker is a trailblazer but tends to crash and burn, he manipulates Zuckerberg with style and numbers but ultimately his flaws almost bury the company.
The score is also a big part of why I love The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross rightly earned there Academy Award win for a score that sends the movie of the charts in terms of darkness. There is at once an introspective tone as much as there is a dread filled one, punctuated by haunting piano notes and electronic pulses that are entirely identifiable with Reznor's work with Nine Inch Nails. I am a fan of Reznor's work as it is but this is one of his greatest achievements in my opinion and may be the icing on the cake that makes this movie a masterpiece.
And a masterpiece it is. My preconceptions were truly shattered when I first watched this film in the cinema, who am I to question whether David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin teaming up to make a film about the invention of Facebook would make a great film! What's more the film actually grows better and better with each watch, the performances cut deeper, the dialogue scathes even more and the score gets under my skin more and more too. I'm now beginning to question whether it is in fact my number two Fincher film in front of Zodiac! That isn't to be decided now though, I am too attached to Zodiac to fully commit to labelling this film anything other than another masterful piece of work from David Fincher. I think that is praise enough.