Review: The Social Network

October 4, 2010

I have to admit, my first thought upon seeing the trailer for this movie was:

“No way. No way are they making a fucking movie about Facebook. That is SO… GAY.”

Perhaps not the most open-minded instant judgement, but I’m sure you understand where I was coming from. Facebook is something I use every day, true, but it’s not something I ever considered to have a history or any great story behind it. I just saw it as some cool fad that was popular now but would eventually fade away, as all things do.

Turns out I was right and wrong.

The Social Network tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg. It starts off mere days before he invents facebook,  chronicling his inspiration for the website and his day-to-day decisions that led to its inception (BWAAA). However the movie itself is told in a non-linear timeline. “Real-time” in the film is based in two separate lawsuit trials in which Zuckerberg is being sued by different people for ownership rights over facebook. As Zuckerberg and the others are going over the case, they recall certain moments concerning facebook’s origins, and those memories become the main timeline of the film.

This non-linear style caught me off guard, and to tell the truth I didn’t know what was happening for the first ten minutes or so. But that wasn’t a failure of the movie, I just I expected to be treated like a child intellectually when I walked into the theater. I incorrectly assumed that since the film’s target audience was people who use Facebook a lot (pre-teens to post-grads) it was going to be dumbed down; stocked with farmville jokes and poke-humor. I was wrong. The Social Network was fantastic.

The acting was superb, even by Jesse Eisenberg who played Zuck. He maintained a stone-face for the majority of the film, smiling maybe three times throughout, but even stone-faced he brought so much emotion out of his character. Interviewers of the real Zuckerberg have noted that he isn’t a very sociable person (how ironic) and Eisenberg’s portrayal of him was spot-on from what I’ve read. Everyone else did equally well; every single character was believable and so very alive; even extras in the background had me convinced.

The dialogue is what got me. Very quick, very clever lines spurted out by Zuckerberg in the very first scene threw me off instantly, and I immediately had to change my level of attention to take in every little quip. The script never faltered, and as I listened I hung on every line, nervous that if I missed one sentence I’d miss something very important.

The story was constantly fascinating and at some points got very emotional, which was impressive since it revolved around such a stolid character. As Zuck and his friends entered situations that grew increasingly stressful the bonds between them all were slowly ripped apart. Their silent rage was portrayed gradually until it manifested itself into the lawsuits that made up the “real” timeline.

All in all, The Social Network is a very smart film that doesn’t bullshit. It tells an emotional story of growth and loss and betrayal and progress with very believable characters (well, they are real) in a fascinating format that keeps you interested the whole time.

I saw the movie for $5, but I would have paid $10.

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