Review: The Social Network (2010)

Aren’t you proud of me? I managed to crowd in The Social Network before the Oscars tonight! I’m still really sad I didn’t manage to see The King’s Speech, but I’ll say this much: I have no doubt that whichever movie ends up winning the big prize will deserve it. Wow. What a slick, well-made piece of work. Kind of like Facebook itself, I’d imagine. David Fincher deserves (and will win) Best Director, and I really hope that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross win for Best Score as well (and not just because of my youthful love for NIN).

Seriously, The Social Network is a very good movie. I wasn’t really all that interested in it, but since it was such a huge deal this year, I figured I should watch it, and I’m glad I did. As I’ve already said, the directing and score were exceedingly well done, and the acting was, for the most part, excellent as well.

The story is that of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, outstanding), the founder of Facebook. Looking for a way to stand out at Harvard (and impress the girl who dumped him), he allegedly steals an idea from the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer, really fun) to create a social networking website that will be exclusively for Harvard students. He enlists his best, and possible only friend, Eduardo Savarin (Andrew Garfield, excellent) to bankroll the project. As we all know, it takes off, spreads like wildfire, and eventually makes Zuckerberg a very, very rich man. Mainly, though, the movie deals with how he got there, and how he stepped on various people like the “Winklevii” (love that!) and Savarin to get there.

The structure of the film is the tiniest bit confusing, as we jump back and forth between two lawsuits, Zuckerberg v. Savarin and Zuckerberg v. Winklevoss(es), with the main action of the movie occurring in flashback as part of the proceeedings. Still, this doesn’t detract a great deal from the overall effect, and since most of the story focuses on the relationship between Zuckerberg and Savarin, it becomes less confusing about halfway through. The performances are all very, very good. Eisenberg as Zuckerberg plays one of those roles that basically means you will hate him forever, regardless of anything else you might see him in. I turned to my husband and said “Wow, we’re only about 5 minutes in, and I already hate that guy.” He looked at his watch and said “Two and a half minutes, actually.” There are moments, though, where my extreme dislike was tempered by pity, and that, to me, is what makes this such a good performance. Armie Hammer is enjoyable as both twins (CGI and a body double, I think?) and Andrew Garfield is very good as Savarin. The supporting cast, including Brenda Song as Savarin’s cute-but-crazy girlfriend, and Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker, all do an excellent job. As much as I’ve heard about this movie, I didn’t ever hear a whole lot about the performances, and that’s too bad, I think. It’s a very well-acted film.

I read some recently, I think by A.O. Scott, about the two main contenders for Best Picture at the Oscars. That’d be The Social Network and The King’s Speech, if you’ve missed that. Mr. Scott was saying that what the winner will boil down to is sort of “Old Hollywood” versus the new guard. The King’s Speech is very traditional, sort of your standard type of Oscar-winning fare, whereas The Social Network is something new and very contemporary. I think you really get that, watching the movie. The action and dialogue are fast-paced but not too fast, the cinematography, scene changes, and direction are very slick and minimal, but highly effective, and Reznor’s score accents everything so amazingly well; it’s just such a tight piece. The story is obviously very current and the leading cast were all very nearly under the age of 30 at the time of filming. The question, then, is whether or not the Academy will go traditional, and embrace the new. It’s anybody’s guess, really, but I wonder if, with the move to young and sexy hosts (James Franco and Anne Hathaway), the Academy is looking for a little bit of a makeover. We shall see.

Regardless, I’d recommend this film. It’s a really solid piece of work, it’s a topic that most of us know something about, and the viewpoint it has about socialization and relationships is a very intuitive one. Zuckerberg, as painted by Aaron Sorkin (who will most likely win Best Adapted Screenplay), knew what he was doing. He understood what people wanted, and how human interaction works, for the most part. With that understanding in place, the movie has it all, and I stand by my prediction that it will still somehow manage to eke out the Best Picture win tonight. Even if it doesn’t, I’d say you should still see it.

2 responses to “Review: The Social Network (2010)

  1. Yes, this really is a solid, well-directed and well-acted film. That’s why I really thought Fincher’s gonna win Best Director! It’s not exactly ‘enjoyable’ in that sense but I respect this one a lot and wouldn’t cry foul if it did win Best Picture. Glad you get to see this one, Sam.

  2. Nice review. But I disagree on one detail. Which is, I think the frequent cuts to the hearing room is the hinge on which the movie works.
    My review of The Social Network:

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