In theaters, 120 minutes, PG-13
You know early on that you're in the hands of an assured master as director David Fincher cross-cuts back and forth across Harvard campus showing, and more importantly, making sense of, a landmark night in the Fall of 2003 when Mark Zuckerberg made a name for himself. He's just been dumped by his girlfriend and has lashed out at her with a booze-fueled rant on the internet. He compares her face to other students online which ultimately leads to the Harvard computer system crashing due to online traffic. This event simultaneously drew notice from the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer) and gave Zuckerberg the inspiration to create a website to interconnect people . . .
Zuckerberg enlists the help of his best friend Eduardo Saverin who has money to spend and the computer programming know-how to help with a future website. The film is told in flashback style from depositions of separate lawsuits filed by both the twins and Saverin. The structure should be confusing, but screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's narrative is as crystal clear as his one-liners are hilarious. Sometimes the dialogue comes at you too fast, but you still get the gist of the scene even as you wish you could relish every word.
As Zuckerberg, Jesse Eisenberg has the same humor we saw in Adventureland and Zombieland, but his intelligence is higher (aided by the writing) and the longing he shows (for his ex-girlfriend as well as to be accepted by elite clubs and groups) makes it the most emotional thing he's done. Andrew Garfield (as Saverin) gives a performance more emotional than in anything Fincher has done. Justin Timberlake is excellent (never expected to write that) as Sean Parker, the charismatic founder of Napster who begins to advise Zuckerberg and Saverin and eventually obliterates their friendship.Fincher doesn't break out his usual bag of tricks, opting to stress more subtle things like camera placement and editing instead. His time-lapsed photography of the San Francisco skyline is reminiscent of the Transamerica construction scene in Zodiac, but the way it seamlessly fuses into a club scene epitomizes the youthful energy found in the characters and the film. Fincher is never one to shy away from technical challenges and the way he frames the (one-actor) twins is impressive. Trent Reznor supplies the brilliant synth-meets-strings score which provides the film a propulsive urgency. The minuscule flaws would include the (rare) outdoor cinematography, the classical musical selection during the boat-rowing competition, and the way the film was trimmed to get a PG-13 rating. About 3 F-words are distractingly replaced.
Watching Inception earlier this year, I shook my head in amazement during the zero-gravity scene where Joseph Gordon-Levitt fights some guys before getting his sleeping team ready for a "kick". The Social Network has several of those scenes (the Facemesh night, the "It's our time" scene), where you're in awe at the level of competence and intelligence brought by the writer and director. A
Friday, October 1, 2010
In theaters, 120 minutes, PG-13