Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Social Network

The Social Network (Better late than never)  SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!! 

The Social Network hit cinemas back in October 2010, gained critical acclaim and pulled in £2,486,454 in the opening weekend. However, surprisingly I never went to see it during its screening period. Being a film ‘critic’, many were shocked at my failure to see ‘The Best Film of 2010’ (apparently). On paper, The Social Network, looked promising. It had director David Fincher who has directed some of my favourite films: Seven, Zodiac and Fight Club. Jesse Eisenberg, who impressed in Zombieland, was starring as Mark Zuckerberg which seemed a reasonable choice. Yet, I was very apprehensive about how a film about Facebook could be entertaining and gain such critical acclaim. Many friends mentioned the involvment of Aaron Sorkin, who adapted and wrote the screenplay. However, though Charlie Wilson’s War was a well-written and great film, The West Wing never really impressed me.
Well, months after its initial release I saw it with a few fellow Social Network ‘virgins’, and I have to say that it is good, but not great. For those who haven’t seen The Social Network, the film follows the life of Mark Zuckerberg from his days at Harvard University in 2003 to the eventual founding of Facebook and the subsequent lawsuits. We see the friendships, rivalries and traitorous nature that the creation of ‘Facebook’ created. It has been claimed to be a ‘biography’, but it has to be pointed out that a large percentage has been fictionalised to form an ‘entertaining’ drama. 
I must say that in the first 10 minutes of the film, I had no idea what was going on. It starts off with Zuckerberg and his girlfriend ,Erica in a bar, no problem there. But along comes the dialogue, which really didn’t gain my immediate attention. While Aaron Sorkin has intentionally crafted the script to fit the intelligent nature of the characters and the Harvard setting, I had no idea what they were on about. My limited knowledge of American Universities probably didn’t help, but it just went straight over my head. Yes, Zuckerberg is made to be a jerk and an awkward individual, but who do we care about in this period, certainly not bland Erica. 
After that, while I remember characters I can’t really remember specific scenes (that’s not a memory issue). The various party and club scenes just seemed to be added into the film as an excuse to have the stereotypical glorification of University life, which whilst suited Timberlake’s personality in one of the scenes, did not suit the other characters, especially Mark Zuckerberg. Yet, the overall script and direction of the film came across well-written and had a sophistication edge to it. It was very clear that Sorkin knew what he wanted to portray and that Fincher had a specific understanding of how was going to show this on film. The best scene, which showed this partnership between writer and director, was the revelation that Eduardo Saverin, best friend and co-founder/ business partner of Zuckerberg, has been cheated by Zuckerberg. The emotion, the dialogue, the acting is all so perfect in that one scene, which truly made it a memorable moment in the film. However 10 minutes later, the film ended. I had sat through 100 minutes of The Social Network and only really engaged with the last 15 minutes.
This brings me to the ending. The final scene sees a junior lawyer giving a ‘inspirational’ and ‘informative’ speech about how Zuckerberg should pay the settlement instead of standing in font of an unsympathetic jury (due to his personality). And then, it was just him refreshing ‘his creation’ after sending a request to his ex-girlfriend. While I understand the difficulty in ending a biographical film when the individual is currently 26, but it just seemed rushed and too sudden. I am not a film-maker so I wouldn’t have known where to finish. However, a film’s ending needs to either bring the story to a close, by an event such as a death or a victory or give a specific impression of the character's story. I understand that the story of Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of Facebook doesn’t really have an end, but it left no specific impression like other biopics such as Ghandi or Chaplin.  You couldn’t have the Winklevoss twins suddenly assassinate Zuckerberg in the settlement meetings, or have a 40 years later segment. But still, what were we supposed to feel; happy?, slightly confused? I left the room feeling somewhat cheated and a little frustrated due to the ending. 
Moving on, many critics and friends pointed to the acting, stating that it seemed very natural and believable. In my eyes, the acting was a mixed bag. Jesse Eisenberg who plays multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg didn’t need to change his usual acting persona of geeky, smart and awkward. Eisenberg’s performance only seemed natural because he primarily plays those types of characters, there wasn’t anything stand-out about his acting. He played the role given to him, that’s it . He definitely doesn’t deserve an Oscar in my opinion (But the workings of the Oscars in another debate). However, where Eisenberg failed to impress, Andrew Garfield did, and really is the star of the film. His performance as ex-best friend, Eduardo Saverin, deserves the critical praise that he has received. Garfield’s character comes across far more interesting than Eisenberg’s. The emotional changes, the sheer tragedy behind is character is played out perfectly. I really cared about the character, his initial apprehension which turned to joy and then shock. We follow Eduardo, through these different ‘phases’ primarily because of Garfield’s performance, thus creating a greater emotional attachment to the character. Armie Hammer’s performance as the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, was also surprisingly good and well-executed. His ability to play two characters, with two different personalities, certainly deserved more recognition than he has received. Many have commented on Justin Timberlake’s acting. While, I will admit he was ‘acting’, he still came across as his douchy, rich persona that he has acquire in real life.  This probably suited the character, but never really saw him do anything different. 
Overall, The Social Network is a well-written and well-directed. However, while it did keep my attention throughout the run time, it never really entertained. It was as good as a film about Facebook could be. 

7/10  (This is my opinion!!!!) 
BTW: This was written before the Oscars


  1. This film never really appealed to me, and even less so after reading this. Like you I couldn't really see where a film about Facebook could go, or indeed where it would end up.

    Great review though, keep it up!

  2. I realllly disliked this film! I found it so overrated!

  3. 'I must say that in the first 10 minutes of the film, I had no idea what was going on'. Think I said almost the exact same thing in my review haha.

  4. To tell you the truth, if I hadn't found this DVD (cloned of course, shinning red side up) out on the street, I wouldn't never watch it. It was not on my list. Maybe I could've watched it on tv or something like that, but not paying a ticket for it.
    OK, so the movie is as entertaining as any documentary and maybe less believable. I couldn't care less if this or that happened to this or that guy, and so on... and with those ''artistic liberties'' they take nowadays to make stories more appealing, who knows if things happened the way they are portrayed here?
    Not that I care, but, is not good even as a document true to the truth.