Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Social Network


The Social Network; Drama, USA, 2010; D: David Fincher, S: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake, Brenda Song, Rooney Mara, Rashida Jones, John Getz, Joseph Mazzello

After his girlfriend Erica breaks up with him, Harvard University student and computer expert Marc Zuckerberg has a moment of "revengeful inspiration" - he creates a sexist website called "FaceMash" where users rate photos of girls. Since he obtained those photos by hacking into confidential student files, he is punished with probation. Still, he attracts the attention of the rich Winklevoss twins who plan to create a social website for Harvard students. Zuckerberg agrees to cooperate, only to stall them and create his own social website first, "Facebook". His only friend, Eduardo Saverin, borrowed him money for the idea. However, when Zuckerberg met Sean Parker, he double crossed Eduardo by reducing his "Facebook" share to only 0,03 %, causing a lawsuit.

Director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin mercilessly defamed and besmirched "Facebook" creator Marc Zuckerberg in one of the first films about the Internet generation, "The Social Network". Though better than the rather bland "Benjamin Button" which didn't show much (except if it was a subversive jab at youth obsessed society), "Network" still doesn't reach the heights of some of Fincher's excellent films, like "Se7en" and "Zodiac", yet it slyly addresses an issue that should slowly be addressed by this time - society's Internet obsession. The film starts off with the girlfriend saying this to Zuckerberg: "People don't hate you because you're a geek, but because you're an asshole" and ends with a female lawyer saying: "You're not an asshole. You just try too hard to act like one". Through those lines, the film shows that Zuckerberg is an intelligent computer expert, but precisely because of too much of that he never developed any social skills and doesn't know how to treat a human being in real life.

The irony that attracted Fincher is that an antisocial outsider, who doesn't have any friends, created a popular social website - which ultimately just exacerbated the superficiality of human relationships. How else to describe people who are more excited by seeing their friends on "Facebook" than in real life? In the end, it's a voluntary Big Brother and the story implies that the only reason so many people become members in it is that they could see "if a girl is in a relationship or not". Zuckerberg identified a character deficiency that attracted 500 million users - and growing. For Fincher, it is only natural that such a person lacks empathy and hurts his friends, since he only understands the needs of his website invention. The dialogs are rather well written, like when Saverin describes Sean's long monologues as a "Sean-athon" or when he tells him that he likes standing beside him, because "it makes me look tough", though not as strong as let's say "The Truman Show" where Christof said: "He has the most recognizable face on the planet. He can't just disappear." All actors are great, but the problem is that the viewers have no characters to attach to since - except for Erica and Saverin - they are all bad guys. Likewise, the film is slightly overcrammed with events. Still, it intrigues, whereas the final image of a lonely Zuckerberg observing his ex-girlfriend on "Facebook", unable to contact her, sums up the irony of the film - she is in his world, and he still can't have her.

Grade:++

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