The Social Network

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The first and most important thing to remember about David Fincher’s The Social Network is that it’s not a documentary about Mark Zuckerberg and the formation of Facebook—rather, it’s a drama, produced for the purposes of entertainment. The events depicted in the film should not be interpreted as factual. That said, The Social Network is a gripping account of the social media-website that rose from tiny startup to household name in the first decade of the 21st century.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The actor, who gained widespread fame for his lead roles in 2009’s Adventureland and Zombieland, gives a captivating performance in his portrayal of Zuckerberg as a hyperactive, awkwardly antisocial Harvard undergrad. From the film’s brilliant opening conversation to the closing scene, Eisenberg’s moody expression and immature antics create a compelling characterization of the youngest billionaire ever.

Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield round out the cast as Napster co-founder Sean Parker and original Facebook financier Eduardo Saverin, respectively. Timberlake, probably best known for his music career both as a member of ‘N Sync and as a solo artist, proves to be just as effective onscreen as he is behind the mike. His portrayal of Sean Parker as a charismatic troublemaker leads the audience to question the role his relationship with Zuckerberg had in shaping the development of Facebook. Garfield delivers a similarly skilled performance as Zuckerberg’s only college friend and first financial backer of the social networking website. His emotional acting, notable especially in moments of duress, lends a refreshing contrast to Eisenberg’s stony-faced and uncomfortable character.

Also of note is the film’s original score, produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The soundtrack is filled with innovative beats and electronic sounds that mesh well with the tech-fueled vibe of the film, although perhaps the most remarkable track is Dennis de Laat’s theater-shaking dub mix of “Sound of Violence,” which appears in glorious volume and is one of the loudest scenes I’ve ever experienced in a movie.

What really ties The Social Network together, though, is the skillful writing. Though many read Eisenberg’s depiction of Zuckerberg as thoroughly negative, I would say that the script avoids placing moral judgment on any of the characters, evading simplistic ‘right and wrong’ evaluations.

The Social Network is truly a brilliant film, displaying the very best of American filmmaking and thrilling audiences and critics alike without relying on graphically sexual scenes or violence. The audience is so caught up in the intricate web of action that they forget to ask why in the world they’re watching a movie about a website in the first place. I could hardly recommend it more.





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