Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella
Runtime: 120 Minutes
Original UK Release: 2010
Even at a time where every boardgame and popular culture property of the past is being dredged up by Hollywood to be produced into a film, one of the last things anybody would have been expecting was the existence and willing into being of a film about the creation of Facebook. But good and sometimes great pictures can sometimes evolve from the least likely of concepts in tired and overexposed and analysed times, and The Social Network (based on the Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires) is absolute proof that under the right conditions any story can be told right cinematically.
It’s a spectacular portrait of culture and society in the early 21st century, and not only for the obvious reasons of its subject matter. It’s an epic tale of deception, betrayal and rich people screwing each other over, but at its heart, there’s an unpredictably honest depiction of youths trying to prove their intellectual worth to one another - broken human beings using code and technical prowess to hide their true emotions.
Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay works fast and loose with the truth but sticks to the instincts and humanity of its subjects, allowing action in words to propel its rapid-fire pace with Sorkin’s equally distinct dialogue. It’s an incredible work that actually challenges the films spectacular editing structure and performers to keep up with it.
Director David Fincher, and resident DP Jeff Cronenweth’s decision to hold the framing as still and cold as possible keeps the audience within the realm of conversation, while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score is a minimalist modern wonder with flourishes of explosive conception to fill in the white noise of isolated, insular lives practically holding back to urge to scream with emotional anxiety.
Jesse Eisenberg had been on the cusp of mainstream success for a while now, and his neurotic chatterbox acting sensibilities are perfectly employed to the narcissistic sarcasm of Mark Zuckerberg. The great irony is that the site designed to bring people together was ultimately conjured out of a sense of crippling isolation and malice for the sake of getting people to like him.
Andrew Garfield’s big break comes here too and he’s fantastic as the best friend who’s slowly muzzled out of his own investment, as is Justin Timberlake showing astonishing range as Napster’s Sean Parker. Armie Hammer is brilliant in a double role as the Winklevoss twins, working with the digital photography to create a seamless effect of two completely separate individuals functioning as one.
The Social Network is one of the first great American pictures of the 21st century, a stunningly visceral illustration of the modern era with more energy, excitement and tension than most action movies.