How we communicate is constantly in flux. It used to be primarily via face-to-face interaction. Nowadays, it is largely via computer. In David Fincher’s riveting new movie The Social Network, based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, communication is exploited and exposed in many forms. One of those uses is the heavy, atmospheric score by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which signals the dark mood that Fincher employs for the story of how the communication mega-site facebook was founded and the power struggle behind the scenes of who came up with the original idea for the 500 million member social phenomenon.
Computer nerd Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, Zombieland) and businessman Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield, Never Let Me Go) are Harvard students and best friends. When the concept of social media is introduced to him, Mark creates a program that crashes the Harvard computer system, and the power of how quickly information sharing can spread becomes amplified. Eduardo provides the financial means for Mark to realize his idea and turn it into an opportunity to meet chicks – and much more.
Humbly-beginning, facebook became the entity it is through college students sharing information. From the dorms of Harvard to law offices in California, from exclusivity to being inclusive of all, facebook’s wide reach touched millions and became worth billions. The non-shocking irony is that the website that connects people worldwide was developed by Zuckerberg, someone who had next to zero connections himself. He clearly wanted a more social life, and with facebook, succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Fincher’s film details how the site came to be and how it ripped apart the relationships of those involved in its formation.
Strong performances abound, particularly among the potentially award-worthy leads Garfield and Eisenberg, but also extending to supporting players like Justin Timberlake’s swindler Sean Parker and Armie Hammer’s Winklevoss brothers (yes, he convincingly plays both twins with a bit of Fincher movie magic). Be prepared for Hammer to become a more well-known actor; ditto for Garfield (okay, that was a layup since he is the new Spider-Man). Even Rooney Mara who plays Mark’s girlfriend Erica is set to blow up soon with the lead role in Fincher’s next film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Fincher continues to further his oeuvre, transforming himself from a more creative, avant-garde and visual filmmaker into a mainstream, award-worthy, polished storyteller in recent films. Fincher takes what might not be typically exciting subject matter and makes it compelling, telling the story in a series of intercuts between past and present, keeping us engaged throughout.
Aaron Sorkin’s script, which is already being largely buzzed about for an Oscar run and seems the odds on favorite for the award at this juncture, is also noteworthy. His dialogue crackles, convincingly translating Mezrich’s work into a sharp screenplay for Fincher’s cast and crew to bring to life. Despite the occasional one-dimensional character and an unnecessary scene here or there, The Social Network is a film worthy of making into a social event. Where there is a money trail, there is often tragedy, and this story is no different. Go see the film, even if you are like me and not on facebook. Deep down inside, just like Mark, it only wants you to “like” it.