Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Social Network

The Social Network
Directed by David Fincher
Released October 1, 2010

Those unfamiliar with or actionably against the notion of Facebook shouldn’t fear that they will feel out of touch with or disinterested in this film. Stars Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, director David Fincher, and writer Aaron Sorkin acknowledge that they have barely ever used the social networking site, and less famous star Andrew Garfield admits that he used to be a typical user but has since broken free. This isn’t a film that tries to be clever by mimicking the workings of the site in its storytelling; instead, it’s a brilliant portrait of a whole host of high-achieving everymen with a competitive interest in creating the next big thing.

Left to right: moderator Todd McCarthy, writer Aaron Sorkin, Star Jesse Eisenberg, director David Fincher, stars Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake at a Q & A for the film

Sorkin, the creator of “The West Wing,” has, more than anyone else, left his distinct imprint on this film. The first scene includes purely dialogue and apparently consisted of nine pages acted out in a mere four and a half minutes, using Eisenberg and future Americanized “Girl with the Dragon Tatttoo” star Rooney Mara spouting off Sorkin dialogue in signature speedy fashion. The film doesn’t proceed forward at an alarmingly or even recognizably quick pace, but so much plot is impressively packed into a mere two hours that encompasses 160 script pages.

The cast, like the script, is entirely excellent. Eisenberg’s nebbishy, nervous attitude makes him the perfect person to play the pompous yet likeable Mark Zuckerberg. Timberlake is actually terrific as Napster founder Sean Parker, and Garfield, who will soon be just as well known as his costars when he stars in the “Spider-Man” film reboot, is simply fantastic as the moral center of the film, Zuckerberg’s partner, Eduardo Saverin. The smaller roles are also shrewdly cast, starting with Mara in the film’s opening scene as Zuckerberg’s girlfriend and highlighted by Armie Hammer as twin rowers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. Most astutely, they all work successfully with Sorkin’s script and respond well to Fincher’s direction, crafting an extremely on-the-ball and memorable ensemble.

“The Social Network” is a movie that’s rousingly entertaining, witty, and undeniably enjoyable. Its story is filled with despicable characters, all of whom don’t seem to comprehend their self-absorbedness, and it’s that very obliviousness to the way others perceive them that makes the experience such a blast. The film simultaneously follows Zuckerberg as he is sued separately by former friend Saverin and the Winklevoss wonder twins while chronicling Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook, and it’s incredibly revealing to see the depositions occur while being privy to as much as can be speculated about what really happened in the run-up to the lawsuits. It may not be an authorized biography or the straight truth, but it would be near impossible for the real story to be as fantastically written or spectacularly presented as this.



Anonymous said...

So why the minus?

Greg Boyd said...

I was wondering that too, but Abe tends to limit his As. As I recall, he only gave out two last year.

And I personally agree with that philsophy. A movie has to be essentially flawless in order to get an A from me. I too only awarded two films that grade last year ("The Hurt Locker" and "Up"). So far this year, though, I've already used up two (on "Toy Story 3" and "Inception"), so I suspect I'll surpass that total this year.

As for this film, it looks amazing. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

But that's exactly my point: The Social Network IS essentially flawless according to Abe's review. Leaving only plaudits and then ending with an A- calls to mind the teacher who refuses to give an A for stellar work on principle.

Now I'm not saying that The Social Network is flawless--not having seen it, I wouldn't know. I just worry about what an arbitrary downgrade suggests vis-à-vis credibility.

Greg Boyd said...

I tend to agree. I always approach every movie expecting pefection, and then take off points for everything that's wrong with it. Like "The Kids Are All Right": virtually flawless, but that one scene with Moore at the end hurt it a bit. Therefore, A-.

Still, I know plenty of critics who reserve As for movies that are both flawless AND "grab them" in a way that other movies do not. And that's fair too.

This whole fixation with grades is also bothersome to me. A well-written review (like this one) speaks for itself. The only reason I use grades on my blog is to keep the movies I see straight in my head (for purposes of top ten lists and other stuff later on).

Greg Boyd said...

Okay, saw it. Loved it. What a fantastic film. Definitely an A for me, by the way.

Movies with Abe said...

Glad you liked the film. Regarding grades, it's true that an A for me has to be pretty phenomenal, and while "The Social Network" certainly is, my one main objection is that it does end somewhat abruptly, and I feel that the movie could have condensed another 160 pages and gone on to be just as interesting and awesome for another two hours. Okay, maybe that's exaggerating, but to me it was terrific but not perfect (though of course perfect would probably be an A+, which I haven't given in years). Anyway, you're right; too much emphasis is put on grades. It's just a way of keeping track of it all.

Greg Boyd said...

Fair enough, although I personally thought the ending was just about perfect. I always prefer movies that leave you wanting more to movies that drag on and on.

ASL Mom said...

loved the movie! went home and googled more information about the characters, the actors, the reactions of zuckerberg et al to the film, reviews -- anything i could get my hands on. A movie that enthralls and entertains and you take with you afterwards like that is a gift (and an "A" in my book -- sorry Abe). I really enjoyed the ending of the film ... I thought it was perfect.