David Fincher seems to have a knack for directing buzz worthy films. His previous, Fight Club and Se7en, have each gone on to attain cult status and he is set to direct the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo based off the tremendously popular Swedish book and film series. If that isn’t enough, his current film, The Social Network, is making worldwide headlines. Though it hasn’t been released yet, its notoriety has reached a colossal level.
The film traces the birth of Facebook from its initial concept to its rise to prominence. The narrative is centered on Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), the creator of Facebook, and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), the CFO. Mark and Eduardo met at Harvard and were best friends due to their computer hacking and programming abilities. After Mark is snubbed and called an asshole by his girlfriend, he decides to take revenge on all women by creating a site that compares pictures of female Harvard students side by side and judging which one is hotter. The site was called facemash.com. After the site is flooded with a gigantic amount of hits within an hour, the Harvard network shuts down and Mark is pin pointed as the culprit.
Although he is hated by the majority of women on campus after this ingenious stunt, he is also sought out by three upperclassmen who have noticed his expertise in programming. They propose that Mark help them set up a new kind of social network that is exclusive to Harvard students called Harvard Connect. He agrees to help them but soon develops his own ideas for a social network and this is where Facebook is conceived. He then approaches Eduardo to run the business side of the site. The two partner up and begin building and expanding facebook.
They face early challenges such as being accused of stealing the idea from the Winklevoss’s( the upperclassmen who proposed Harvard Connect). These obstacles are miniscule in size to the ones that lie in store for Mark. Mark also catches the attention of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster. Parker ends up owning seven percent of facebook and Eduardo is completely shut out of the picture. Eventually Mark faces two massive lawsuits, one from Eduardo and the other from the Winklevoss’s, that are both economically and emotionally taxing.
The acting in the film is superb. Eisenberg, who has been seen in Adventureland and Zombieland, again plays the self-deprecating dork who seeks acceptance from the outside world. However, this time his character has a much more serious edge and darker story to tell. It is arguable that Eisenberg is being typecast as a neurotic teen or underdog, but as far at The Social Network goes, we shouldn’t view this as a downfall. Garfield, who starred in last year’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, steals the show. He portrays Eduardo with true conviction and the audience is able to sympathize with his character to no end. Garlfield and Eisenbeg have exceptional onscreen chemistry. Their exchange of witty banter is sharp and enjoyable. Though many are skeptical of Timberlake’s acting abilities, he delivers well as Parker, the somewhat sleazy Napster party boy.
If the story itself and the cast are not enough to make you tempted to see this film, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails did the soundtrack which is a mix of LCD Soundsystem styled synth beats and suspenseful tracks that add to the high-strung and obsessive narrative. More over, Kevin Spacey produced the film. Spacey generally has good taste in projects and has won two Academy Awards for American Beauty and The Usual Suspects. Seeing that it garnered the attention of many crucial players in Hollywood, it is hard not to recognize The Social Network as an important film.
The film has received a substantial amount of backlash for its portrayal of the true facebook story. Many are claiming that the film is a work of fiction. This upheaval of criticism may hover over the film like a dark cloud but, despite the scrutiny, it is paramount that we critically approach the film on its own. The film will be successful regardless of the adversity. It is a return to form for Fincher and the cast is outstanding.