Movie Review: The Social Network- David Fincher Brings a Riveting yet Fictitious Account of Real Events Through Aaron Sorkin’s Consummate Writing Skills

In 1950 Akira Kurosawa tested audience’s perceptions to the idea that what you experience visually is truth in his breakout masterpiece Rashomon, which is a theme to be remembered when experiencing David Fincher’s new film that focuses on the current subject matter of the internet. Aaron Sorkin’s script that tightly frames this project’s cultural ambition has been criticized for being completely fabricated, but The Social Network isn’t meant to be a bio-picture on its creator Mark Zuckerberg. Instead the film acts as a template for a modern day story of acceptance, jealousy, arrogance, greed, and most of all notoriety. In a way Fincher’s The Social Network works as a modern day Citizen Kane in topic and aim but this time focusing on a computer programmer’s alienating rise of fame instead of a media mogul’s rise and fall. The film is nowhere near as inventive or inspiring as Orson Welles’ masterpiece but is certainly a quality film that boasts both Sorkin’s great use of dialogue and character he was known for in “The West Wing,” as well as Fincher’s tight and calculated directing. Sure, this loosely based adaptation of the book “Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich isn’t really true at all but Sorkin and Fincher’s dedication to telling a story that is supposed to only be perceived as truth makes for a truly engaging and refreshing cinema experience.

Much like Kurosawa’s Rashomon the story in The Social Network is being told to the audience from a looking back perspective from multiple individuals sitting through the various compensation trials Zuckerberg did indeed sit through. Recounting the events from Zuckerberg creating his first internet sensation on the Harvard Campus to the inevitable deconstruction of his most cherished friendships, The Social Network has Jesse Eisenberg from Zombieland and The Squid and the Whale fame at its core as the unlikeable yet extremely engaging Zuckerberg. What’s remarkable about Eisenberg is that he is able to bring to life this invented jealous, insecure narcissist from Sorkin’s pages and make an extremely despicable character incredibly watchable. There are times when this self-involved character seems so distant from social situations that it is so poetic to see him as the man behind the most widespread social network the internet has ever seen. Perhaps that is the beauty behind Sorkin’s script, which is aided by this disjointed telling of events from different perspectives. But at the heart of it all there is a truth that is undeniable in the story being presented to the audience and that is the fictional version of Zuckerberg is a vindictive, jealous, self-aggrandizing genius that is difficult to turn your eyes away from.

Fincher has certainly developed a style over his years, where the camera work is so technical and calculated that it can be a tad bit alienating as with his last project The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But in The Social Network Fincher’s chosen cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth makes every image look clear yet chose a lighting scheme that is alluring and dark. There seems to be a focus on the efficiency of the shot rather than drawing it out for artistic purposes, such as in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Instead the camera work is similar to that of Fincher’s breakout film Se7en, which had a moody use of lighting but with a well rounded and appropriate use of moving and static visuals. As a whole the film is well paced and never drags as each dramatic or comedic element flows extremely well thanks to the efficiency and clarity of Sorkin’s script. The music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose provides another layer to The Social Network making the already uneasy ambition and vindictive nature of Zuckerberg really come to life. While the subject matter is incredibly current, which at times it might mean that the film could inevitably be deemed dated, the themes are timeless and presented in a gripping way. The Social Network separates itself from the trivial entertainment that Hollywood produces by balancing witty dialogue, technical skill, a relevant story, and good acting.

Jesse Eisenberg is indeed a marvel to watch on the screen in Fincher’s The Social Network. His albeit negative personality is so visually engaging that it mesmerizes you from the very beginning on how this self-centered insecure kid was always such a despicable human being. This invented persona of a real life media titan definitely trumpets the themes of Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane and ends in a similar fashion as to reflect on how power, money, and notoriety are not always the keys to happiness. Eisenberg’s fictitious Zuckerberg is meant to be a kind of modern day parable on the temptations, downfalls, and alienation that occur due to self-centered ambition. Along with Eisenberg is a fresh, young cast full of familiar faces and definite up and comers. Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s best friend Eduardo Saverin brings another great performance to aid his already established career as a quality actor following his performances from the Red Riding Trilogy, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and most recently the dystopian drama Never Let Me Go. Surprisingly pop singer turned actor Justin Timberlake provides for some great on screen moments as the equally despised internet personality sensation Sean Parker, the inventor of Napster. Everything in The Social Network comes together splendidly but it’s the convincing performances from the actors that make this timeless tale of ambition well worth watching.

Inventing stories that are based on real people or loosely based on real events have always been apart of the movies, whether it be Citizen Kane and its blatant referencing of William Randolph Hearst or the Coen Brother’s lie in the opening of Fargo that the events that follow were real. Perhaps the real Zuckerberg isn’t as malicious, insecure, jealous, or objectionable as the fictional version Jesse Eisenberg portrays through Sorkin’s tightly developed script. However, this is to negate the entire purpose of Fincher’s film and Sorkin’s script as a parable reminding us that legitimate connection to people isn’t as simple as a click of a button or the pathway to a better life isn’t being known. As Zuckerberg clicks refresh on the internet page at the end of the film there is simply an image of someone who isn’t happy despite having a final title show that his site is now worth 25 billion dollars. The key to happiness isn’t necessarily money or fame and The Social Network provides a great story to compliment that sentiment in a believable if fictitious way.

Grade: B+

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One Response to “Movie Review: The Social Network- David Fincher Brings a Riveting yet Fictitious Account of Real Events Through Aaron Sorkin’s Consummate Writing Skills”
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