Posted on 10/16/11 09:18 PM
When I had first heard of a project in the works which would cover the founding of Facebook, I was both slightly amused and annoyed. How could Hollywood allow such a movie to be made that tells such an uninteresting story about one of the biggest social networking sites of this decade? However, after seeing Fincher, director of a number of great movies including Fight Club and Seven, being named as it's director and Aaron Sorkin, writer of the West Wing, is assigned to write a screenplay based off the book The Accidental Billionaires, I was somewhat intrigued due to my respect of both of those individuals. And even after seeing the spectacular and alluring trailer which featured a beautiful rendition of the Radiohead's song Creep, this film was suddenly on my fall must-sees. After my first viewing, I was calling this the film of the year, and after more viewings, this film has become one of my personal favorites.
I believe that you can capture a film's mood and essence just in the first scene. So I'll start my review there. We are thrown into a conversation between two college students: Erica Albright and our supposed protagonist Mark Zuckerberg. Just by this conversation, I am presented with everything that is going to occur later on in the film: Acapella groups, rowing crew, a break-up, and a condescending, asshole genius that is set on joining a Final club just for achieving notoriety. Just by this convervation, I am introduced to the quick and insightful dialogue that will follow throughout he rest of the film, along with the breakout performances from both Jesse Eisenberg and even Rooney Mara (who steals the only three scenes she's in). With this scene, I realize that this film is not about Facebook at all, but a film about how people in the modern world communicate and how money and greed can lead to betrayal and the spoiling of a friendship or business partnership.
As I said before, there is a break-up. Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), once realizing that her boyfriend, the computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), is a jerk, dumps him in a hazy bar, leaving
him mortified. So Mark gets revenge in the only way America knows how to do now: by trashing her on the Internet! After this, Mark, with help from his fellow programmers, decides to create a site that compares girls at Harvard based on their hotness. This causes Harvard's server to crash in a night, attracting the attention of two future Olympians, Tyler and Cameron (both played by Armie Hammer) and their friend Divya Narendra (Max Minghella). Hence, they present Mark with an idea of a dating site in which girls are able to interact with Harvard guys, hoping that he will code it. Instead he takes this idea and comes up with a better one: a social networking site among college students that closely resembles Final clubs due to their exclusivity. After leading Nerendra and the Winklevoss twins on while he launches his site, he goes to his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, for some start up money in exchange for a guaranteed business partnership. But the story is told in nonlinear fashion, jumping between the Winklevoss law suit AND the law suit from Mark's former best friend Eduardo to Mark's rise to power through the creation of Facebook through a series of flashbacks and flashforwards. We are then left to wonder the origins of such law suits through what we are presented.
As mentioned before, the dialogue and screenplay is perfect, award-winning stuff. Each scene carries some sort of significance, while each line serves some sort of purpose and insight. Sorkin really did a great job by tackling a somewhat questionable subject matter and turning it into a profound sense of writing. My hat first goes off to him. Secondly, I have to recognize the brilliance displayed by Fincher here for his use of camerawork. First and foremost, the lighting is a visual treat for me, perfectly capturing the cold darkness of a chilly October or the haziness of a college bar in the opening scene. Also, I have to mention the editing, which keeps the interest on screen with numerous shots, some even adding a sense of humor to the film which was unexpected for me, with the canoe race being a notable scene. But Fincher also played a hand in the acting, since this film is filled with young stars. Eisenberg has shifted from the whole Michael Cera-like comic nerd persona evident in Zombieland to a serious dramatic actor. Justin Timberlake, who portrays Napster founder Sean Parker, may be an even bigger surprise with his indulgent, but paranoid playboy. Andrew Garfield is also strong, along with other supporting acts like the amusing Armie Hammer and the scene-stealing Rooney Mara, which I now see why Fincher cast her for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also, the score, by Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor and AtticusRoss, is perfect for this film. Dark and eerie, and memorable during the opening credits with it's screeching violins and soft piano keys.
For me, this film is about how pursuit for power can lead to a lonely life, since Mark betrayed Eduardo due to personal jealousy. To Mark, it was not about money, but a pursuit for alife of accomplishment, kind of contrasting our modern world of greed. But I have become interested in the way this film is
structured. In the first half, the film embodies modern society: people communicating through partying and social networking, and litigation to solve disputes. But in the second half we have what Sorkin refers to as elements from a Greek drama: greed, betrayal, power, and so on. Comparisons to Citizen Kane can be made: Erica is Mark's "Rosebud" and the idea of Mark losing more the more money and power he gains and be corrupt and lonely as a result. With all these thoughts in mind, I think that this film is a destined classic because it functions on all these levels so well. After multiple viewings, this film has become one of my favorites and will hopefully endure the difficult test of time.