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5 reviews, 39 user ratings

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Social Network, The
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by brianorndorf

5 stars

As the co-founder of Facebook, the popular social networking site, Mark Zuckerberg is a rather enigmatic figure, rarely caught out in public these days, despite being the youngest billionaire in the world. “The Social Network” looks to map out Zuckerberg’s rise from zombified programmer to online dynamo, yet lacks the participation of the man behind the keyboard, preferring to pilfer the pages of the 2009 book, “The Accidental Billionaires,” to construct a suitable portrait. Perhaps this is why the film is so sharp and rapid-fire, forgoing the need to appease egos, instead stomping around acres of mud, portraying the young internet wizard as a ruthless, friendless, untrustworthy punk inside a barbed wonderland of litigation and dot-com startup euphoria.

After his blunt, near robotic personality lands him in trouble with his semi-girlfriend (Rooney Mara), Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) strikes back with a particularly inventive evening of coding, resulting in a website sensation that humiliates most of the ladies on the Harvard campus. Attracting the attention of upperclassmen Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer), Mark is handed the task of creating a social interaction site for his school. Instead, the inspiration moves him to create “The Facebook,” a limited, but novel site, funded by Mark’s only friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Exploding in popularity, Mark desires to keep the site’s cache of cool in check, while Eduardo hopes to expand into advertising. Sensing an opening in the relationship, former Napster founder, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), swoops in to take command of Facebook, playing to Mark’s lust for power as lawsuits explode, with the young CEO facing fire from all sides as everyone comes to claim credit and cash.

To have director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin collaborate to bring this story to the screen is akin to a superhero team-up, with two major forces of artistic might putting the sort of care into a project few would expect much out of. It’s an exemplary polish to a sketchy tale of deception, arrogance, and backstabbing, endeavoring to breathe life into an unfinished saga, released during a delicate time when Facebook is enjoying unparalleled success, with Zuckerberg struggling to twist his reputation as a brilliant twerp into a Bill Gates brand of legitimacy.

It’s clear from the first few minutes that “Social Network” is a Sorkin creation, submitting a Tommy Gun-style of writing that twists the banality of Facebook’s formative years into a cracking, lacerating verbal assault. Blending stark characterizations with a toxic back and forth between Mark and his accusers, Sorkin takes the legal and social particulars to an intriguing level of suspense, held together by superlative dialogue that lends the story a theatricality to keep it awake. Tinkering with structure, using Mark’s legal woes as the spine of the story, Sorkin dances through time to underline the origins of the site, the paranoia of the participants, and the lust for money once Facebook hit the big time. It’s a story of sharks feeding on sharks, with bystanders watching helplessly as Mark rides his online prowess to the big time, resulting in vicious accusations, unbridled jealousy, and a string of deception that’s chronicled masterfully by Sorkin’s tart, taught writing.

In perhaps his most subdued directorial offering, Fincher winds around the story efficiently, evoking a grand collegiate environment, helping Sorkin effectively arrange his chess pieces. The director doesn’t have to do much to isolate the toxicity of the conflict, but Fincher gives “The Social Network” its wondrous presentation, sticking to immaculate compositional and aural habits, allowing his cast to lead the charge. A few sequences are ruined by unnecessary visual showmanship (a rowing encounter in England has Fincher employing tilt-shift photography for reasons unknown), but the majority of the film keeps tight to mood and anxiety, refusing to compete with the head-slapping turns of fate, allowing Mark’s vile behavior to be the special effect.

Embodying a burgeoning Gen Y brand of evil, Eisenberg delivers career-best work as Mark, shutting down his acting tics to portray a robot of a man -- a savant type who failed at interpersonal relationships, taking refuge in his vast computer skills, blogging and coding his way to greatness. Fueled by jealousy, Mark is portrayed here as a callous, vengeful ghoul, quick to turn his back on his supporters as he loses himself inside the kingdom of his mind. Eisenberg, traditionally drawn to noodle-bodied, geeky roles, shows mighty presence in the picture, delivering a steely performance that keeps Mark an oddly sympathetic villain, showing the frustration of his genius while gamely articulating his repellent, perpetually disrespectful personality. Eisneberg and Garfield (who’s nicely panicked and defeated, but hardly resembles someone from Brazil) make a captivating pair of leads, lending the film something of an emotional pull while the rest snuggles up to frosty procedural antics.

The only true weak spot in the ensemble is Timberlake, wildly overplaying his hand as Parker, a man who wormed his way into Facebook using his innate charm, dividing Mark and Eduardo. The singer looks the part, but his schmooze is painfully artificial, failing to color the character’s reptilian entrepreneurial pathology to a satisfying extent.

Ultimately, “The Social Network” isn’t a fully rounded picture, never allowing Mark the humanity he deserves; instead, it’s a blade of a movie, cutting around this peculiar battle for ownership with outstanding aim, sitting down with arrogant, brusque men as they battle for control of Facebook. It’s not an easy time with this pompous crowd, but the feature encourages the venom to a mesmerizing level of engagement, turning legal woes and verbal abuse into a spellbinding sit.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20232&reviewer=404
originally posted: 10/01/10 09:03:22
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 New York Film Festival For more in the 2010 New York Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell very good imho 4 stars
3/04/15 stanley welles a spellbinding and compelling story with great performances and flawless direction 5 stars
8/14/14 Mario is the Best The Cat in the Hat is awesome! This movie is utter GARBAGE!! 1 stars
8/22/11 Annie G I was expecting something that would disappoint, but I was pleasantly surprised. 3 stars
6/05/11 Piz easily readable and more surface play than true intrigue. Still, a decent movie 4 stars
4/20/11 Maya Jewell I loved it. The characterization and dialogue got me. 5 stars
3/20/11 Guido Sanchez Interesting perspective, and while hollow, still captivating (perhaps because of the story) 4 stars
3/19/11 jessica edwards A good film, a little slow though 4 stars
3/12/11 Luis A very good film, would've enjoyed it more with less hype though 4 stars
3/05/11 Judith Ackerman Please mention that last line of the movie - I just want to gag 1 stars
3/02/11 J This review mentions nothing about the 'made up' plot, way to fail at background research 2 stars
2/19/11 RePTaR Interesting angle on the new Internet start up wave, but it lacked real conflict. 4 stars
2/13/11 Alex Gagnon My boyfriend said he thought it was pretty good.. I haven't seen it myself though! 4 stars
2/12/11 mr.mike Much better than I expected. 4 stars
2/11/11 C Lakewood Emotionly disengaging. Have way through thought "I never want to see this movie again." 2 stars
2/08/11 David Chiozza It is a very good film, but I have to say that I believe it to be rather overrated. 4 stars
2/07/11 Joseph Odle Fincher admitted story was hardly true. This film does nothing new for movies at all. 2 stars
1/24/11 Andrew Not engaging at all. It is as flat as soda over a month old. 1 stars
1/23/11 bill norris Timberlake- quite the actor as well. 4 stars
1/22/11 Beverley M Sporck Interesting to follow the beginnings and path of facebook. 4 stars
1/19/11 Martin I enjoyed it. The acting was good. 4 stars
1/15/11 GEORGE B. FEIST Amazing and Jesse at his BEST EVER. Dialogue is over the top 5 stars
1/15/11 facebook sucks fuck facebook 1 stars
10/20/10 Monday Morning Always interesting but with no humanity or emotion - both required for a great story. 4 stars
10/19/10 Justin Probably the most overrated movie I've ever seen. 3 stars
10/19/10 Mike A story superbly told! 5 stars
10/17/10 kc lame and superficial 1 stars
10/15/10 Suzz just a very average film that's seriously over hyped 3 stars
10/14/10 fred Boring Bad acting Over-rated I hated it 1 stars
10/13/10 Yal e Freedman The Social Network is a fascinating look at the creation and legal dilemmas surrounding the 4 stars
10/09/10 turner what's the point about a movie about facebook 1 stars
10/08/10 Sheila B Completley engaging, if you can keep up with the dialogue.Tells a great story w/great music 5 stars
10/06/10 taylor stupid propoganda film (absolutely pointless) 1 stars
10/04/10 millersxing Why didn't Fincher drop the "The" from the title...sooooooooo uncool. 4 stars
10/04/10 Bob Dog Tedious, repetitive, pointless. 1 stars
10/04/10 killer rubbish pointless movie 1 stars
10/04/10 Simon Brilliantly loaded topical film of Sorkin writing nuggets,tho rapid-fire style not for all 5 stars
10/03/10 Mary Mcmurray I liked it. It portrayed Zuckerberg in a bad light but I'm sure he could care less as he lo 4 stars
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  01-Oct-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 11-Jan-2011


  DVD: 11-Jan-2011

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