The Social Network | movie review
Baby, you're a rich man...
Movie summary: As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business. (IMDb)
The Social Network is a movie I've loved since I first saw it, even if that was on Blu-ray and not at the cinema. It's also one of those movies for me that is so effortlessly brilliant that my mind almost takes it for granted in a way that it somehow diminishes in my memory - right until I watch it again and wonder how I could ever think this film was anything other than a work of utter genius.
In fact, everything about this movie is so good that it's a struggle to pick somewhere to start with the praise because every single piece is interwoven so perfectly with everything else that it does feel like an impossible job to pick some aspect to place above the rest by talking about it first. It's one of those lightning in a bottle moments that plenty would love to replicate but is impossible to engineer because it just happens.
So let's start the praise with Aaron Sorkin's screenplay, making the founding of a social media company so utterly gripping to watch. With so much technical computer jargon to work into the script in a way that can be easily understood (at least in context), splitting the story across multiple time frames and countless named characters involved, it could've been a complete train wreck.
But then you have to praise the editing by Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for putting everything together in a way that allows The Social Network to get across the aims of the script as clearly as it does. This isn't even taking into account how quickly the characters speak, going a hundred miles an hour at all times not just because they're mouths are struggling to keep up with their brains, but because the script was actually a little long so the director, David Fincher, encouraged the cast to say their lines as fast as they could manage.
Moving onto Fincher, you've got to give the guy credit for pulling all the myriad pieces together as well as he does here. In addition to managing all of the above, the movie looks as slick as you'd expect from him which is another giant feat in itself as the movie jumps about in time and location. From lighting to location, it becomes fairly simple to track when and where we are in the story just from how things look.
And if looking great isn't enough, how about that incredible score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross? Seriously, it's a work of utter perfection and is simply fantastic to listen too - not just in the movie, but in its own right too. The signature piece is 'Hand Covers Bruise', which comes up multiple times and is used expertly every time, including one of The Social Network's most emotionally-charged scenes right at the end when a friendship is ruined forever.
I'm not going to spoil which friendship is ruined for those who haven't seen the movie, but you'll see the seeds of that split coming way before proceedings get to that point. That you can see it coming isn't a case of poor writing or it being obviously set up, but more like it feels akin to a natural progression and there are multiple moments far earlier when it could've happened too.
That's in praise of the cast who are all amazing. It's weird to think that most of those involved weren't particularly well-known when they made The Social Network, but the movie now looks like it has a stacked, all-star cast thanks to how they shone so much in this movie enabling them to move on to bigger, but not necessarily better, things in the years that followed.
Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield are simply stellar as Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin respectively, and how each of their lives are changed by the founding of Facebook is simply fascinating to watch. Then you have Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins and Max Minghella as Divya Narendra, who excel as the entitled rich guys who feel betrayed by Mark, who was simply smarter than them.
I could go on and on working my way down the cast to include Justin Timberlake's Sean Parker and his... fascination with younger women, Brenda Song as Eduardo's scary girlfriend, and more besides, but you get the point - this cast is fantastic from top to bottom. It should be noted that there are very few, if any, genuinely nice people in this movie, but that doesn't stop them being an absolute pleasure to watch.
Are there any faults? I would say 'no' for me, but I would understand if some people did get a little confused with how the story jumps around in time as the movie switches between the founding of Facebook and two separate lawsuits Mark is involved in as a result of said founding. I could also understand if some people didn't like that pretty much all of the main characters are jerks to some degree.
As it is, I absolutely love and adore The Social Network and am still shocked that The King's Speech somehow beat this for Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars. This isn't to slam the latter as it's a perfectly fine film, but this is a genuine modern classic and I think should be seen by as many people as possible because it's simply that fucking good.
The Social Network is a true twenty-first century masterpiece that absolutely deserves all the praise that's been lavished on it over the years. It looks and sounds as amazing as you'd expect from a David Fincher movie scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin is fantastic and the cast is uniformly brilliant in making a bunch of unlikeable guys utterly compelling to watch. A must-see movie.