According to every review on the internet, as well as aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes, new Facebook-founding movie The Social Network is some kind of a masterpiece. Even the calmer critics acknowledge it’s an extremely good film. So, much like when I wrote my review of Inception, I won’t be surprising anyone.
Because this is very, very well done. It takes a dry subject matter, a non-mainstream electronic soundtrack and an overly talky script, then mixes them together beautifully. But are there things it could’ve done better? Do we care about its self-confessed casual relationship with the truth?
Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher are now friends.
Before I go further, I’ll admit to being a fanboy for Aaron Sorkin, the author of this screenplay. His TV series, The West Wing and even Studio 60, are among my favourite things. Much like West Wing, Sorkin makes the jargon serve as window dressing to the character drama; you don’t need to understand computers to care about the outcome.
However, it’s a very chatty script, and could still have been visually flat. I love Sorkin, but director David Fincher deserves equal credit, at least, for making this so compelling, through montages, fast cuts and visual trickery. And yet, despite leaping between timeframes, it’s not confusing either.
Trent Reznor added Bleakness to his Interests.
To a Sorkin-watcher, it’s interesting that there are few sympathetic characters. His previous works have portrayed most protagonists as ultimately duty-driven and good, even TV network executives. Here, our most relatable character is merely the lesser of several arseholes. The actors, especially Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg, do a great job of tackling that head-on, yet remaining human.
The surprising bleakness at the core of The Social Network is rammed home by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s electronic soundtrack, which makes any amount of college partying seem desolate. It’s over-powering at times, but to me, very complementary.
Comment on status?
The biggest controversy has been the accuracy (or otherwise) of the film. Sorkin has acknowledged truth was glossed over for a good story; I think that’s reasonable, but it’s more ambiguous when the main subjects are not yet dead, particularly since it hardly reflects well on them.
And I did wonder whether the film could have benefited from a stronger ending, or being less male-dominated somehow. But the pressures of time and not straying too far from the truth probably got in the way there.
Still, these discussion points don’t drag down the end result, which could be a defining film of our strange internet generation. Whether that means it will age badly, I am not sure; I’ll quite happily watch it again in five or ten years and let you know.
So, clearly I loved it. Do add a comment below, Facebook-style, and let us know your thoughts.