Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Social Network

It's not actually my favorite movie of 2010, but The Social Network represents, possibly by far, the best coming together of writing, directing, and acting that I've seen from last year. There's just immense skill on display through the entire thing.  Aaron Sorkin's screenplay is so great that you could be justified in posting the entire thing on a webpage for memorable quotes. The structure is clever in doling out information while leaving you anticipating the next scene, and the dialogue is just unbelievable. And while the negative connotation of that word could be applied, it doesn't matter because the point isn't for the characters to sound real, but just to be constantly entertaining to listen to. It's the same thing with the inaccuracies in the story - the broad strokes of Facebook's creation seem to be mostly correct, so who cares if things that happen between characters are changed for dramatic effect? It's a movie.

Meanwhile, David Fincher's direction is excellent as well. He's not the most consistent filmmaker I can think of, but with the right project he can knock one out of the park, and even the lesser movies he's directed still have his style, which makes most things more interesting. He gets great collaborations out of his cinematographer and composers, including Trent Reznor, who provide a memorably and unsettling score. Even with the script, the movie might not have worked without the sinister mood all these people worked to create, and seems key to making a film hinging on something as pop culture-focused as Facebook still work.

And the cast is great from top to bottom. Jesse Eisenberg finally and definitively casts aside the Michael Cera comparisons with his depiction of Mark Zuckerberg, a brilliant programmer and wordsmith but someone who doesn't really know how to act around people. His relationship with friend and site co-founder Eduardo Saverin is key to the story have any emotional resonance, and Andrew Garfield more than holds up his side of that in the role. There's something odd about the film's version of Sean Parker, the guy behind the business side of Napster who impresses Zuckerberg with his business ideas and eventually becomes a partner. The movie seems to conflate him with the more famous Shawn Fanning, and it's also strange how he seems more like a rock star than a young, bright business man, which is further encouraged by him being played by Justin Timberlake. But it somehow works for the film's purposes, and Timberlake does a fine job. Fincher's use of technology to enhance a movie without using obvious, overbearing effects has always been intriguing, and having Armie Hammer play both of the Winklevoss twins because he was right for the part instead of just picking two real twins pays off. Women aren't really a big part of Zuckerberg's life after he gets the Facebook idea, even leading to some accusations of misogyny in the film, but Rooney Mara and Rashida Jones are both good in supporting roles as the ex-girlfriend who sets the whole thing in motion and a junior lawyer who sympathizes with his position.

So the movie is pretty brilliant from start to finish, with all of the elements I've described thrown together and allowed to thrive for two hours. There aren't really any particularly special moments that stood out to me and made me exclaim at how good the movie was, but consistently excellent filmmaking is worth applauding too. I'm not sure if it will quite earn too many of the incredibly talented people involved the academy awards they might deserve with The King's Speech (another film I hope to see soon) kind of looking to me like an unstoppable juggernaut at this point, but whatever the case it's still a great movie just absolutely packed with killer dialogue and great performances. There's just so many quotes running through my head right now. It would be a shame to settle for just one, so I'll instead just say you should see this movie if you haven't yet.

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