Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Opens October 1st, 2010
Run Time: 2 hours, Rated PG-13
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer
Directed by David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW.
"You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies" reads the press poster for "The Social Network", the new movie about the invention of Facebook. If you don't know what Facebook is, or if you're not on Facebook, there is a good chance that you're an alien, or one of the last known human hold-outs to the popular networking site. Significant as the invention of Facebook is (I rank it right up there with the invention of crack...it changed the world, but in a good way??), many may not know it's origins. "The Social Network" may not be entirely factual, but it is an interesting and head-scratching look into one of the most important cultural phenomenons of the 21st Century.
The Plot. Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) is a Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius, who in 2003 creates what eventually turns into Facebook. To say it was his idea, is one of the conflicts at the center of the movie. As most other important inventions however, the creation comes out of a need...in Zuckerberg's case it can be related and drawn back to woman who dumps him. Rather than reveal every plot element, I'll let you see the movie unfold for yourself.
Up against your Wall. And that's the charm and the downfall of "The Social Network". It is a very interesting film, based on a very interesting character. We all have a vested stake in the movie because we are all a part of Facebook, so it is relevant how this website came about, reunited us with our old classmates and family members, and led to the mismanagement of every one of our work days over the past few years. You may think it interesting, for example, that Sean Parker (Timberlake) played a key role in the success of Facebook...Parker, you may remember, was the creator of the other internet phenomenon called Napster years earlier. You may also find it interesting how one becomes a billionaire off of a website. But once you watch the movie and find yourself repeating the words, "hmm, I didn't know that" at various points, the movie doesn't really resonate with you. Kind of like Facebook in a way, where at first it was completely mind-blowing to get in touch with long-lost friends, but now it seems like a mindless ritual to log on and read the same wall postings over and over.
But don't get me wrong, Fincher directs the film in a way that keeps it interesting. There is a balance between Zuckerberg's legal and personal troubles, and it reveal a lot about human friendship, betrayal, and innovation. It is hard to show creativity on-screen, but Fincher seems to bottle a feeling of creation throughout the earlier scenes.
I "Like" this movie, not love. If only Zuckerberg was a likable person...in this movie anyways. The audience is not told to sympathize with him at all, but rather with his business partner and co-creator Eduardo Saverin (Garfield). It is heart-breaking to see what happens with their relationship, but Zuckerberg is such a cold fish that we never really see a true friendship. If there was more of a bond shown between them in the film, it would have been much more effective when the betrayals finally occur.
Final Examination. "The Social Network" is gathering a lot of praise, but it is mostly it's timeliness that makes it effective. Facebook is still relevant today, so the movie will be relevant. Perhaps it will always be relevant, and if so, this movie will be considered a great movie in time. However, if technology has shown us anything, it's that it is constantly changing...In ten years, when we have (possibly) moved on from Facebook, this movie may be seen on the same level as if someone made a movie about the creation of the Rubix Cube, or a movie about the invention of the Laser Disc.
Judging the movie not on it's future relevance, there is something about "The Social Network" that just seems outdated. I can't put my finger on it, but it just wasn't compelling enough to be put in the same category as this year's other films, The Town and Inception. But make no mistake, it is a good film worth watching, and definitely worth telling your friends about...on Facebook of course.
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