By Matthew Viel
The latest in director David Fincher’s film catalog, “The Social Network,” is a film that defines not only the last decade, but what we, as a society, have become during this decade. It may come across as just a film about the origin of Facebook, and it does explain most of the facts of how it was formed. However, the film focuses more deeply on what the characters have become, similar to what society has become: doubtful, self-centered, narcissistic.
So, how good can a movie about Facebook really be? Good enough to be a big winner at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 16, where it was honored for Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Director for David Fincher, Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin, and Best Original Score.
The film begins with a perfectly written sequence in which we are introduced to Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, in what could possibly be his career-defining role). In this clever and humorous scene, Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) are discussing multiple topics at a local bar. He ignores all her reactions and opinions on each topic. When Zuckerberg says that Harvard is far superior to Boston University, which Erica attends, she breaks up with him and calls him a jerk. Sad and confused, Mark runs back into his dorm, writes a furious blog about Erica, then later starts hacking multiple Harvard girls’ photos into a website, rating their attractiveness. Thus begins the layered, heartbreaking story of Facebook.
The writing by Aaron Sorkin is pure, sharp brilliance. The script should be a definite Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay – there is really nothing more interesting and intriguing this year. Most would not expect a film about Facebook to be a dark comedy, yet Sorkin’s sarcasm and wit help define the past decade very well.
The writing also develops layers for each character. One main example is Mark Zuckerberg, who comes across as an arrogant, self-centered, socially inept would-be billionaire. From the opening sequence, however, the audience sees another quality: He is very lonely, and wants to avoid social rejection at all costs. We witness this through Sorkin’s writing: Zuckerberg first appears as a misguided, fast-talking, socially inept man, but as situations unfold we come to realize that Zuckerberg is a one-of-a-kind character who would not let anyone stand in his way, including his best friend.
The acting is nearly flawless and every actor contributes his or her best. Also, each character in this film portrays a different aspect of society. Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook and Zuckerberg’s best friend, is a prime example. He starts off as a man with hopes and dreams of success, similar to what every American wants; because of his best friend’s creation, he believes his dreams of success will come true. However, when Zuckerberg stabs him in the back and tries to prevent him from getting a huge percentage of the company, he feels not only betrayed, but that his dream is destroyed.
Garfield’s portrayal represents the American dream being destroyed, which relates to American society during the recent economic crisis. Garfield plays this character with such heartbreaking innocence and purely human hopelessness that the Oscars should keep an eye on him for a supporting role.
Another prime example of fine acting is provided by Justin Timberlake, perfectly cast as Sean Parker. Timberlake’s portrayal of the character represent society’s business side. Originally the founder of Napster, Parker is going bankrupt and needs a new idea to bring him more money. Once he comes across Facebook, he takes Zuckerberg under his wing, influencing him to do certain deeds to “help” the company, including trying to remove Eduardo as co-founder. Timberlake’s Sean Parker portrays the greediness and selfishness of our society today: the type of people who can lead us into trouble.
The score from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross may seem like a strange choice, but it fits perfectly with the film. It is a very beautiful, very modern, and very haunting mix of electronic, rock and orchestral music. In addition to its Golden Globe, this score deserves a special award for being one of the riskiest and most unique of the year.
“The Social Network” is easily one of David Fincher’s finest achievements in years. It is his best film since “Fight Club.” Here he does not focus on the visuals, but rather on the characters and the story. Fincher has created not only one of the most relatable movies of the decade, he has created a modern masterpiece. This is easily the best film of the year.