Review: The Social Network (2010)

Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield

When something comes along that’s so astonishingly relevant it ends up defining an entire generation of people, any praise it receives, excessive or not, is admittedly well-deserved. Being that you can’t walk across a college campus without hearing someone complain about Jimmy being tagged in a compromising photo with a girl that isn’t his girlfriend, there shouldn’t be a doubt in your mind as to whether or not Facebook has become one of the most important (and popular) inventions of the 21st century. Even more amazing is how the social networking behemoth’s creator and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was recently deemed the youngest billionaire in the world, yet the site’s mammoth user base has yet to fully comprehend just how Facebook came to be and the countless bumps Mark encountered along the way. Using the book by Ben Mezrich that chronicles these previously mythical events, director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin have managed to transform the tale into one of the timeliest and all-around ingenious pieces of cinema to ever grace the silver screen.

Usually after I watch a film, the first thing I’ll do is establish a short list of pros and cons to aid me in determining just how much I liked what I’d just seen. When nary a single negative thought cycles through my brain, it’s usually safe to assume that this particular film is truly something else. The Social Network is a prime example of just such an anomaly, mostly because it’s perfect nearly everywhere it counts, and not just in the realm of unrivaled social relevance on a massive scale. Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant script teeming with equal parts humor and raw intelligence to complement that of its boy genius protagonist is fantastic on its own, but paired with Fincher’s pitch perfect creative touches, the film as a whole really steps up onto a whole other plane of existence that very few have been able to reach.

One of the film’s infinitely more appealing attributes is without a doubt its lightning fast pace. Intended to most likely mimic the rate at which Facebook itself began to experience its meteoric rise to internet superstardom, each verbal exchange that takes place between each character major and minor is nothing short of mesmerizing. The dialogue is engaging, whip smart and insightful, and even though Zuckerberg himself is depicted in an almost unbearably negative light, we can’t help but root for him on account of his endless wit and unrelenting motivational drive. As for the “based on a true story” element that quite obviously serves as the film’s framework, it’s easy to detect the sense of authenticity present throughout the narrative, and truth be told, the story itself is fascinating and, at points, heartbreaking when we’re offered a glimpse of what personal sacrifices were made in the wake of Facebook’s creation.

The Social Network also excels from a technical standpoint, benefiting from some seriously impressive editing to coincide with Fincher’s signature creative flair that’s undoubtedly given all his work that little something extra. The film’s ability to effortlessly bounce back and forth between the sequences documenting the simultaneous lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg and the events surrounding them makes the entire experience all the more involving, as do the astounding efforts put forth by each and every member of the cast.

Jesse Eisenberg alone has never really ceased to impress me, as he’s always struck me as someone with immeasurable talent, yet his portrayal of Zuckerberg is so heartfelt and infinitely convincing that you’ll end up preferring the idea of him as Zuckerberg over Zuckerberg himself, imperfections and all. Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s best friend turned foe Eduardo Saverin once again proves that he’s earned his spot on the ever-expanding list of young upstarts that are presently making a huge splash in contemporary cinema, and even Justin Timberlake is even able to hold a candle to the dynamic duo, as surprising as this statement may seem at first glance. Collectively, the efforts of all involved really showcase just how talented they truly are, and a lack of recognition come awards time would be a tremendous disappointment.

Seeing as how I’ve more or less said everything I can about The Social Network‘s prowess as a remarkable piece of filmmaking, I’ll just go ahead and say it’s definitely the year’s best and well worth your time, especially if you just so happen to be one of Facebook’s 500 million users. Besides being much timelier than your average production and defining an entire generation of individuals in just over two hours, David Fincher’s latest greatly benefits not just from his stellar direction, but from an uncommonly intelligent script, some of the year’s absolute best performances and an often heartfelt retelling of an already mindblowing story. I don’t consider many films perfect, seeing as very few things exist that deserve to be classified as such, but in all honesty, The Social Network is worthy of every inch of praise it’s received from every source, professional and unprofessional alike.

Rating: 10/10

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