Facebook, like it or not, has become an indispensable component to our daily lives, it now helps us orchestrate several major aspects of our social existence, content is diversified across different formats and this free service has evolved over time, catering to our own expanding needs as the customer and making it insusceptible to the things that have made its predecessors failures. Facebook pretty much lead to the invention of the term social networking, this whole universe online, and became catalysts to Twitter, Foursquare and others who feed on the same human need that has made Facebook a success: our hunger to connect.
Like many, I was extremely skeptical towards the idea of a movie about Facebook, to a certain, indoubtable extend it was still an invaluable service but it had begun to be viewed as a nuisance, counter-productive and the brand itself was battling privacy concerns,small-scale protest. In retrospect, I think this was because the business of Facebook had been taken for granted, it was presented to users as an easy, unscientific item but to many others it was a platform for making-money, behind the inception and development of Facebook the creators of this movie have found an engaging story with characters that had written themselves: a doomed friendship, two court cases, and the unique tale of one Mark Zuckerberg.
Fiction or not, a great story was told, Zuckerberg has since addressed the film as entertainment, saying that someone had to be picked to be the villain, an enemy. Jesse Eisenberg, who started with a few unnoticeable roles before graduating into a full-blown, intensely annoying one-note actor. He was that Michael Cera knockoff, a bumbling and socially-awkward geek who was supposed to be the tormented, unlikely anti-hero but his entire repertoire was cutesy, limited and fuck-my-brains annoying.
In The Social Network, he is the irrepressible star, nothing about his physical image has changed, that same Jaafar-in-Aladdin chin and curly hair, but his delivery has undergone a makeover: in place of a stutter is a soft, straight speaker who is overly confident, with a commonplace attire and lackluster presence, with no charm or palpable magnetism he is forced to win others with ideas and intelligence. I have no doubts about Jesse Eisenberg at least earning an Oscar nomination, but the Oscars itself has become a joke to me (was the 2010 show really a fight between Avatar and The Hurt Locker? Precious and The Blind Side were nominated for fucking Best Picture?), so I hope Eisenberg is recognized by being casted into more dark, complex roles. Young he is, but he is one of those rare actors who can transform and eschew parts of himself to really elevate a character.
And because I feel I need to get this out of the way, I have to say it: Justin Timberlake will not be nominated for an Oscar, but if it happens (and it could), it will because the Oscars are desperate for some publicity and his nomination would garner millions of young viewers. As the notorious founder of Napster, Timberlake’s role is limited to an asshole, an expert manipulator too fond of power and money, it is a one-dimensional character in a film otherwise full of more interesting ones. And because of the also small function of his role in the film, any nomination for Best Supporting Actor would by default go to Andrew Garfield (our Spiderman in the next reboot) or Armie Hammer (who played both the Winklevoss twins), although neither of them were that impressive, unlike the time Ryan Gosling wowed us with Half Nelson or Carrey Mulligan with An Education, both relatively inexperienced actors who took us by surprise.
Returning to the film, writer Aaron Sorkin (who in the past wrote a few mediocre things, including Charlie Wilson’s War) has managed something that is layered and captivating, it shoots from the past to present with two lawsuits at the base, is an intelligent script unfixated on sounding too smart, there are no big, defining scenes that try to achieve a Big Hollywood Climax, and besides Justin Timberlake’s Napster Guy, the characters have a twisted depth, and are given room to showcase their range in a story that is more of a community play than a soliloquy.Its a no-brainer that Aaron Sorkin will win Best Adapted Screenplay (its based on a book,The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook),good for him.
Director David Fincher (the father of cult-hits Se7en and Fight Club, but whose last two films Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, did absolutely nothing for me) moves from one scene to another with a storyteller’s grace, a few times indulging in the wildly unexpected, that scene with the boats suddenly bombarded by close-ups and low depth-of-field blurriness for example. By his side is Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor (if you are not at all familiar to his work, do yourself a favor and listen to Closer, which I feel is most symbolic of his involvement here) draws a soundtrack which I feel is trying too hard. Parts that could’ve threatened to bore us with their length or conversation were packed with emotional, electronic music, as if trying to compact them into movie trailers for the attention-challenged viewer, in the first few scenes especially the soundtrack plays the biggest role in moving the film forward, and I don’t enjoy anticipation and suspense being narrated so unrestrainedly by music.
Those are a few of the unobvious choices made that did not payoff, but besides this The Social Network scores plenty at being a scarred beauty. They could have easily hired a set of good-looking, well-known actors but Eisenberg, Garfield and even Timberlake I feel, have an indirect handsomeness about them, they are no doubt very good-looking people but not in the way a typical blond, square-jawed, blue-eyed western actor is, there is an averageness or minute ugliness and mystique to them that works for the characters, who were convincing as real people before we acknowledged them as capable actors.
The film ends with a conversation between Mark Zuckerberg and a minor character, it encapsulates everything we get to know and is made to understand about the former, whose immense wealth came at the cost of a friendship, and was partly driven by the need to be apart of something so miniscule: an ex-girlfriend, a college club, a party. The character has been exaggerated by no small volumes, but it is no doubt what makes the whole film, along with Jesse Eisenberg’s execution. The Social Network owes little to Facebook for its success.