Friday, October 8, 2010

News Feed: "Social Network" best film of 2010 so far

The Social Network (2010)
120 min., rated PG-13
Grade: A

Whether it gets a “poke” or a “like,” David Fincher's The Social Network is the most-talked-about film that defines the decade. It's an instantly absorbing, sharply acted, and meticulously directed piece of modern filmmaking, with an impeccably written script every inch as smart as the story's subject himself. 

Jesse Eisenberg is pitch-perfect and multifaceted as Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard sophomore founder and wunderkind of Facebook. We begin in 2002 when Mark is dumped by his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and he bitterly, drunkenly blogs about her, leading to his creation of “Facemash” (comparing campus girls on a hot-or-not scale) which receives 22,000 hits in the first two hours and crashes the Harvard network. First sued by fellow students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer with Josh Pence's face digitally inserted convincingly on one), a pair of wealthy identical-twin Olympic rowers and charter members of the in-crowd claim, Mark is claimed to have stolen their idea. Next is the rupture between Mark and his ex-best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), who began as the company's CFO and ended as a victim of corporate and personal backstabbing. Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, played by an effortlessly smooth Justin Timberlake, comes along to help Mark and Eduardo take Facebook to the next level. 

Based on Ben Mezrich's book “The Accidental Billionaires,” Aaron Sorkin's snappy, witty script tells the conflicting perspectives of the founding of Facebook, told in a non-linear fashion between the process of starting Facebook and the consequential lawsuits. 

The Social Network is a talkfest, but a spellbinding talkfest at that, spoken so intensely and able to cover many issues of greed, loyalty, betrayal, while provoking questions of ambition and success. The hyperspeed words flow from each actor like a fast-speed Internet connection, without ever getting too exhausting or calling attention to itself. Sorkin also manages to make computer programming and big finance more exciting than it sounds. 

Visually, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth shoots with crisp, cool, shadowy interiors and exteriors. Nine Inch Nails member Trent Reznor's edgy, electronic score helps with the breathless pace and overall vibe of the film. The end credit song, The Beatles' “Baby, You're a Rich Man,” is just right. 

Back to Eisenberg: He nails the prickliness, intelligence, verbosity, wit, and arrogance of Mark Zuckerberg—a computer genius who isn't an asshole but tries so hard to be asshole. Garfield, as Mark's betrayed friend, matches Eisenberg step by step. Rashida Jones has a small but important role as a legal aid, hitting the nail on the head about Mark by the conclusion. 

The Social Network never feels like a universal “true story” but gives us all versions of the story, plays fast and loose with the facts, and alternates sympathies. 

So if you can stop checking your Facebook updates on your news feed for a minute, go see it.

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