Film Review: The Social Network

I saw The Social Network some time ago, but I did not write anything about it, and I’m kicking myself for that. So I’ve just watched it again so that I can give it a proper go here.

The Social Network documents the possibly shady development of Facebook from the point of view of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). It alternates between the two separate lawsuits in which he was embroiled and the story from the beginning. This brings me back to the days in the early 2000s, (obviously) before Facebook became a reality and blogs were just becoming popular. Xanga, MySpace, and Friendster were big, and I remember when Facebook rose to popularity. I was a sophomore in college, and it was just reserved to college student access. Those were the days… With the exception of the ridiculous games that pervade Facebook, we can see the inception of most of the aspects of the site with which all users are familiar. Relationship status, “friending,” photos, etc.

First, I have to admit that I underestimated Jesse Eisenberg from the start. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Zombieland, but I’ve considered him to be Michael Cera the 2nd. This is not true. He directly and clearly departs from this waffling, nervous George Michael Bluth image and becomes a jerk. Not entirely; on the second watch, I’m seeing moments of goodness in the midst of his hard, abrasive exterior, which Zuckerberg uses as a mask. However, he is so preoccupied with being cool that he alienates nearly everyone in his life. We see this from the outset, when he is broken up with by his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) as he continually belittles her–and then, subsequently, everyone around him. This seems to step from Zuckerberg begin so self-centered and narcissistic, so stuck in his own head, that nothing else matters. Eisenberg nails it. I absolutely agree with the Best Actor nomination, yet Colin Firth has earned it just a bit more.

Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Zuckerberg’s former best friend Eduardo Saverin. I now have more confidence in him as Peter Parker/Spider-man. Justin Timberlake does a great job as well as Sean Parker. I hadn’t known that the founder of Napster had anything to do with Facebook. Timberlake is genuine and funny, displaying some solid acting chops that transcend his (memorable) bit parts on Saturday Night Live.

Aaron Sorkin does it again. He is a brilliant screenwriter, and I have appreciated everything he has done, from The West Wing to A Few Good Men and even Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. His quick-witted, fast-paced dialogue is his trademark, and it works wonderfully.

This film has been nominated for a few Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Editing, Sound, Screenplay, Cinematography, as well as Score. This is a personal favorite category of mine, as I listen to film and television scores on a regular basis. I listened to this score, composed by Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross. I did not like it standing on its own. It’s frenetic, hasty, and too techno for my tastes. However, I made it a point to listen for it as I was rewatching—and it absolutely works in the context of the film. I can see how it would be nominated. Oddly, I’ve never thought of soundtracks as being nominated for their roles in the film, as I usually appreciate them both in the film and as listened to outside of the film on my own. However, in this case, it only works within the film’s context. Here is an interview with Reznor and Ross.

4.5 out of 5 stars


4 thoughts on “Film Review: The Social Network

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