The story behind Facebook’s inception has always eluded most people. While relatively known to many, all we ever really knew was that a kid invented it during his days at Harvard along with some other people that he screwed over. That was the gist of it. A story like that, one that remains very short-lived given that the popular social network hasn’t been around for all that long, it may have been the easiest thing in the world to screw up as a movie. This was my initial thought upon hearing that a film was in the works. But then of course we discovered who was behind it and that quickly eliminated all doubts.
You cannot go wrong when you put David Fincher behind the camera, and put the power of the pen in the hands of Aaron Sorkin. Both geniuses in their respective fields of filmmaking and scriptwriting that it is nearly impossible to go wrong, and assuredly probable that what they produce will no doubt impress. And so it does.
Fincher, who is probably more accustomed to directing tales of straightforward timelines, juggles Sorkin’s near-schizophrenic screenplay that jumps between a time when Mark Zuckerberg puts together “The Facebook” to a time when he faces two separate legal battles from the people he screwed over in the process. The scenes jump from one to the other without the mention of a single date or year to give the audience a sense of time. You simply have to be familiar with the surroundings, most of which take place on Harvard University’s campus, and two separate legal offices. The characters tell the story in the form of a deposition, all in the past tense. But both Sorkin and Fincher make sure to keep both timelines interacting constantly with one another so that the present does not fade away in favor of telling the past.
The portrait of the world’s youngest billionaire is not pretty, probably somewhat fictional and somewhat non, but overall entertaining to watch. Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Mark, is at his best, stuttering out Sorkin’s tricky and sharp dialogue with spectacular moments of razor-sharp rants that shocks and silence everyone in the room. Andrew Garfield delivers a great performance as Eduardo Saverin, Mark’s ex-best friend, and Facebook’s original CFO. The faltering relationship of these two characters lends the biggest validation to the film’s tagline: you don’t get to 500 million friends, without making a few enemies.
As for truth and fiction – although Sorkin based much of the film on Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires” and actual court depositions – The Social Network is not meant to be an accurate depiction nor a documentary about the history of a billion-dollar company. It is, like all things written by Sorkin, focused on the characters themselves. How they evolve, how they change, how a young man who feels alienated from the elitist world that surrounds him, the world he tries so desperately and unsuccessfully to penetrate, creates a social network out of revenge, jealousy and the pursuit of popularity. Ironically, that’s what most people use Facebook for anyway. What you end up thinking of Mark Zuckerberg will vary and The Social Network does a good job at putting judgment aside and allowing the audience to decide up until the very last frame, which simply pours with human honesty.
All in all, Fincher and Sorkin craft a masterful film, and this is all to say nothing of Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor’s often-times haunting soundtrack that lingers in the background of most scenes and blends in with the darkened wallpaper of Fincher’s film.
I agree the movie is pretty well made – how can you go wrong with a Sorkin/Fincher mix? But I did have one reservation on the apparent bias against Zuckerberg. I am not defending the guy but it seems most of the inaccuracies in the film were meant to serve one purpose, which is to emphasize his back-stabbing nature. This could be remnants of the book it was based on. Still, it was a little annoying for me.
lol! It should have been Trent Reznor’s NIN and not the other way around 😉
Thanks for the review; now that I know what this movie is all about, I will not watch it! But I am still bent on getting the soundtracks!
@lama, your “back-stabbing nature” judge based on your personal opinion?. The auther was clear (if you read the book anyway) in his justification why he changed parts of the true story; just to make it more exciting/leg-dragging (in other vulgar word, sexier).. you cant follow up with the script/storyboard without exciment and complexity reduction, which obviously appeared in the movie.
@Amr, yes I am aware of the author’s justification. However, my argument was that I believe the inaccuracies they made were not really intended to make the story “sexier” but in fact to vilify Zuckerberg even more. Is the book worth reading?
thanks @lama, it clear now :-). I read it once it was in bookshops in UK, and i couldnt find anything really exciting.. maybe because i already know the biggest part of the story, or because it looked like “guys.. buy my book and see how you could be rich!” marketing thingie.. bytheway, the book and the movie and the reality are different :-), especially in the milestone parts.
recommendation? i suggest you dont read it if you already watched the movie or at least know most of the story.. and if not, still, it doesnt worth, at least in my humble opinion.
@Lama: I don’t think the film vilifies Zuckerberg, it humanises him (or at least his fictionalised counterpart). I came away feeling sorry for the guy. If he is a villain, he’s a pretty tragic villain.
@Matt Maybe vilify is not the right word. I guess pathetic is the word I’m looking for.
The very best part of the movie was when those twin brothers were competing in that rowing race and they lost to the other team by just a whisker. It sums up the whole movie.