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Matt's The Social Network Review
I’ll admit to this right off the bat, I was deeply skeptical going in to this particular film. Mostly due to the popularity of Facebook, there was, perhaps, more internet chatter about this film than any other of the 10 Oscar contenders. A scary amount of critical acclaim surrounded The Social Network, but that doesn’t always lead to good things for me as a viewer – I should explain that the critics and the Academy and I don’t always see eye to eye, look at No Country for Old Men (on second thought, avoid No Country for Old Men Like the Plague). What worried me was the subject matter. I’m not the biggest Facebook enthusiast you’ve ever met, and how could a movie like this maintain its relevance, centered on such a trendy topic? Having the critics hail this film as the best movie of the year, and an instant masterpiece seemed a bit pretentious. I wasn’t wrong. The Social Network was not the best movie of the year, nor is it a masterpiece; however, I can’t deny it was a really good movie.
- Mark Zuckerberg is a douche bag. There’s just no getting around that fact. The good news is, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t really a character-driven drama. We’re not really meant to identify with the bastard, and I was fine with that. It’s more the cleverness of the writing, the performances, and the excitement of watching the popularity of this idea grow to unbelievable heights that kept me engaged.
- The pacing of this film is blisteringly fast, and the characters talk at a rate of speed I’ve not seen since The West Wing. It took me a couple minutes for my brain to catch up to the speed of the dialogue in the opening scene. It’s sort-of like listening to Shakespeare’s Iambic Pentameter, for the first five minutes, it’s gibberish, then your brain adjusts and you start to “get it”.
- This is a singular film. Classing this in a genre is difficult. It’s not an action movie, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, or period drama. If I had to compare this to anything, it would be Wall Street. Wall Street was more character-driven than this, but it was just as reliant on fast-paced editing and business related plot twists. Like Wall Street, the Social Network is about greed, and the devastating effect it can have on people.
- David Fincher is a really good director. We knew that 16 years ago when he made Se7en, and that hasn’t changed. When you watch this film, Fincher’s paw prints are all over it, no question it’s David Fincher film. I wouldn’t have it any other way. That being said, Se7en and Fight Club were better movies.
- Jesse Eisenberg is to be given props for tackling such a horrendously unlikable character with such finesse and nuance. It can’t have been easy, and while the character remains completely unlikable, it was still a hell of a performance.
- Andrew Garfield on the other hand should also be given props, because this movie doesn’t work without him effectively giving the film an emotional center, and the audience a character they can actually sympathize with. It was an earnest and heart wrenching performance.
Music, Cinematography, and Special Effects
- Not the biggest fan of Nine Inch Nails, but I thought Trent Reznor did a hell of a job on the score. Nothing ground-breaking, but the score for this film was always going to be important, because the energy of the film was important.
- The cinematography was virtually a non-issue with this film, as most of it takes place indoors. However, I loved the atmosphere of this film, the kind-of down and dirty nature of it – most of it takes place in really nice (Harvard) college dorms. Dark and moody, much like it’s protagonist. In a word… awesome.
- No special effects on this one folks, this is performance, storytelling and editing down to its raw and glorious essence. Don’t let that keep you from seeing the film, but definitely take note of the idea that a movie doesn’t need a ton of CGI to be flashy.
The Bottom Line
I don’t see The Social Network as groundbreaking or masterpiece film-making, but it was a good film. Certainly a product of its time, and only time will tell how well this film will age. The interesting thing is, how vintage this film looks when/if Facebook’s popularity wanes. 20 years down the line, Facebook could be a distant memory, and this film could lose its relevance entirely. We’ll see what happens. What I really loved about this film is its fantastic energy, it is fast-paced, the characters are smart, the dialogue is sharp, and David Fincher is definitely on his game. I liked the movie, and I think for anyone interested, it’s well worth a look. 8.5/10