By ERIK ZOTTNICK
If you have any reservations about watching “that Facebook movie,” set them aside.
“The Social Network,” directed by David Fincher, deserves your attention. It’s an intriguingly electric story about alienation, loss and despair in the face of billions of dollars. It’s sexy, seductive, relevant to our generation and best of all, it’s deep.
The movie, starring Jesse Eisenberg, is about the meteoric rise to fame of Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, as the world’s youngest billionaire, and what that cost him. It tracks Facebook’s controversial inception and the painful litigation that followed.
Zuckerberg is portrayed as a simultaneous narcissist and genius. Eisenberg plays him with ferocity and a deep need to succeed always searing underneath. It’s certainly a joy to watch him perform.
The script, written by Aaron Sorkin of “The West Wing,” is all hyper-fast dialogue, an asset brilliantly utilized by the cast, chatting their way through a burgeoning digital age. The movie cuts between Zuckerberg during Facebook’s creation and the aftermath in court, allowing characters to comment on the action as it happens and add clever subtext to the events.
The dialogue is lacerating through its wit, emulating the resplendence of Harvard. The setting is captured wonderfully and you really feel like you’re in the environments of an Ivy League school, dilapidated bars, loud clubs and corporate offices.
Fincher directs with just the right amount of poise and few frills. The movie is excellent on a technical level, with beautiful cinematography in a dreamy palette of browns, greens and a sleek blue. The composition is perfect, as are the minor camera moves that Fincher makes; just enough to convey the point he’s making. There’s no flash without substance here and the film never loses sight of its underlying themes.
Trent Reznor’s original score adds a dark edge to the movie and pulsates with the emotions that fuel the characters. The soundtrack underpins a sinister current running throughout the movie. It’s all electronic bliss and dissonance charting the frustrations of a generation caught staring at computers.
The acting is impeccable and perfectly timed. Of course, a movie driven by dialogue wouldn’t work without the right actors who can all perform admirably. Andrew Garfield, who plays Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s best friend and CFO of the company, is fantastic in his role. He serves as the movie’s moral center and makes all the right turns as someone who is pulled away from both his company and his friend.
Justin Timberlake is absolutely stunning as the Silicon Valley “rock star” Sean Parker, a rather surprising and impressive job for the pop star. He has just the right charisma to play someone who could seduce Zuckerberg into “dot com” superstardom while sliding his way into the maelstrom of Facebook.
We see Zuckerberg being pulled in different directions, but we already know where he’s headed. Eisenberg shows us the vulnerability underneath that drives this student into the person he is, or probably always was. He crafts the character of Zuckerberg as a tragic, critically unaware figure. We watch Zuckerberg as he ushers us into a future where we “live on the Internet.”
It’s funny to see the supposed inventor of a tool that should bring us all together forge everything because his natural impulses drive people away. Don’t miss this movie.