Starring: Jessie Eisenberg, Armie Hammer, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake Pitchforks: 5 out of 5 Rating: PG-13
Movies that are labeled “best of the year” usually do not have an upbeat tone.
I give you “The Social Network,” the David Fincher directed, Aaron Sorkin scripted tale of how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook while a sophomore at Harvard.
Fincher (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Fight Club”) gives us a dark, deflating and dazzling account told from three different perspectives. It leaves you wondering who is telling the truth, who’s lying and who’s just backstabbing for the fun of it.
Zuckerberg, played by the go-to-nerd-that-isn’t-Michael-Cera Jesse Eisenberg, is portrayed as a cold, vengeful and ultimately childish person, creating Facebook not to make money, but to get back at Harvard’s elite social clubs. He’s a guy who doesn’t have goals, just targets.
Eisenberg is delightful in his role as the most dreadful of people, giving Zuckerberg an edge that makes you abhor him while maintaining an underlying sensitivity that leaves you wondering if he really is such a bad guy.
The story is told out of context, taking place both at Harvard during the creation of the social networking site and in deposition rooms when Zuckerberg is being sued by Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), once Zuckerberg’s best friend and Facebook’s original financier, and the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer), social elites who claim Facebook was their idea.
Sorkin’s (“The West Wing,” “Charlie Wilson’s War”) script is fast, with more words per minute than the average “Gilmore Girls” episode and a wit that’s even quicker. Yet at the same time it comes off as very real. Sure, these are Harvard students speaking and they reference things that may seem vague to us normal folk, but not in a way that makes them seem superior or patronizing. They’re all geniuses, but they are still people — egotistical, devious people.
They’re people that could have been around during any point in history. Sure, they’re relevant because they created something modern, but the story is timeless, based on greed, corruption, love and friendship. It’s easily comparable to Kurosawa’s 1951 classic “Rashomon,” which takes place in 12th century Japan.
That’s not to say that the film is lacking in originality. In a year that’s been full of predictable, mind-numbing sequels, “The Social Network” is a breath of fresh air that at the same time sucks everything out of you with its cast of characters that have no low point. In this case, deflation is a good thing — it’s art, it makes you feel something, it makes you angry, confused, bitter and, overall, pleased with the film you just absorbed. Things that have been absent from just about everything on the silver screen as of late.
They’re also pretty people. Justin Timberlake plays the part of Sean Parker, creator of Napster and ultimate corrupter. Timberlake’s performance works as the best excuse ever for not putting out another album as he transforms himself into a conniving, soulless jerk whose smile makes you forget everything. The Winklevoss twins also add the eye candy with their booming baritone voices and classic good looks, their handsome faces and athletic ability on par with their wit and intelligence.
The score, written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross, is as creepy as it is emotional, sending chills down your spine and tears to your eyes. It subtly sets the mood, working in perfect harmony with the dingy colors of Jeff Cronenweth’s cinematography.
As a finished package, everything about this film is superb. The acting by Eisenberg, Timberlake, Garfield and Hammer magnificently gives life to Sorkin’s intelligent script with a soundtrack that haunts you comes together under the meticulous directing of Fincher.
Whether Mark Zuckerberg likes it or not, the Facebook movie may have a new friend named Oscar come awards season.
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