Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Social Network review

I have to admit that when I first heard of The Social Network, aka "the Facebook film", I was a bit skeptical. It had director David Fincher attached to it and Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter, and yet I thought - why would anyone would be interested in the story of how Facebook was founded. And despite all the hype and the flood of positive reviews, I remained unconvinced.

Then last week I was invited to a private screening of The Social Network at Sony Pictures in London on Monday. And I was glad I said yes, because the film is as good as the critics have been saying.

While The Social Network revolves around the early days of Facebook - it isn't totally about Facebook. The centerpiece of the drama is build around the relationship between the two Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), and how that early friendship is driven apart by legal disputes over money and intellectual property. Here's the official synopsis by Columbia Pictures:
On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history… but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications.
The script is impeccably well writen by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Man), with great dialogue. I wouldn't be surprised if Sorkin gets nominated and wins an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. It is intelligent, and is well structured, though unsurprisingly filled with Hollywood cliches (creative license). The film uses a great framing device - using two seperate lawsuit depositions. The story of how Facebook was born was instead told through multiple flashbacks.

Jesse Eisenberg was good as the easy to dislike, deadpan, geeky and social misfit Zuckerberg, while Andrew Garfield (soon to be Peter Parker in the Spider-Man reboot) was excellent as Zuckerberg's best friend Saverin. Saverin as CFO, provided the money needed to launch and maintain Facebook in its early days. While competent, he was undone by his lack of experience and vulnerability. Justin Timberlake gave a terrific performance as the unlikeable sleaze Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, proving that at least he is a better actor than he is a singer.

The decision to use the Winklevoss twins's litigation against Zuckerberg may come off as light comic relief but does help with the pacing of the film. Speaking of the Winklevoss twins, Armie Hammer played both characters (well sort of - amazing how far digital effects have come). This I found amazing, as I really thought there were two different actors playing two completely different characters (albeit physically similar). It wasn't until after the film when I checked the credits that realisation hit me.

The cinematography is brilliant. I am not one of those guys who are keen on the use of shallow depth of field in film, but fortunately the filmmakers used such techniques sparingly in the film. For example the use of tilt and shift lens to film the Henley Royal Regatta rowing race was a masterstroke. People have been using tilt and shift lens to create miniature effects in photography but the use of such lens in motion films has been rare.

All in all, The Social Network is great film with great actors and a screenplay, a wonderful soundtrack (by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and plenty of admire about. If there ever was a film released this year worthy of plenty of Oscar accolades, this is it.



Anonymous said...

Watched it tonight. Great film.

sadblonde said...

This was an excellent review. I also enjoyed the film a lot more than I thought I would! I'm interested to know what your thoughts are on the end?

Jon said...


I thought about how poor I am compared to these rich people!

I did feel sorry for Eduardo and chuckled about Sean Parker's situation.