The Social Network
After last night’s Golden Globes ceremony, it was pretty clear that this was the movie to see before the Oscars. Fortunately it is showing in one theater in DC, the newly opened West End Cinema. After posting on Facebook that I was about to see it, I wondered if it really was the best movie of the year?
Well, not quite, for me at least. But it still very good and worthy of praise. The Social Network is a well-paced tale of Facebook’s creation through the lens of two lawsuits against its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. At question in both cases was the proprietary nature of an idea. Who had the idea first, and therefore who owns it? Was it Zuckerberg’s idea alone? And is this all a morality tale – hard work and dedication pays off, but reckless partying will lead to disaster? We never really get a definitive answer, but that’s not the point – it’s really about how the largest social media platform on the planet started in a dorm room at Harvard.
The script is by Aaron Sorkin – those familiar with his work on The West Wing will recognize the snappy dialogue that is a mouthful and zips by at a breakneck pace. It works well in this context, as we are following the tale of geniuses run amok. Director David Fincher keeps up that pace, but fills it with an ominous overtone that the future may not be so pretty.
While I think he does a fine job with the role, Jesse Eisenberg’s challenge is that his character (Zuckerberg) is so one-note. Other than the occasional hint of a smile, he is so monotone that he reminded me of Lilith on Frasier. The showier role goes to Andrew Garfield, who portrays Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s best friend and business partner that slowly breaks down as he watches Facebook spiral beyond his control. The Winkelvoss twins (humorously called the Winkelvii) are both played by Armie Hammer, who infuses them with a mix of jock bravado and gentlemanly rage. Also of note are Justin Timberlake as the manic founder of Napster, Sean Parker, and the lovely Rashida Jones as a legal associate.
The main take-away from the movie for me is how this simple idea exploded in a way that no one could have imagined. Is it any surprise that the first thing I was ready to do upon leaving the film was…to post about it on Facebook? Facebook is so powerful in our lives that we even use it as a verb – “She Facebooked me last night.” So this begs the question – what’s the next idea that will take over the world?
On the whole, an excellent film that should at the very least win an Oscar for its screenplay. I give it a satisfying A-.