Reviewers have high remarks for film about Facebook’s origin
October 7, 2010
Director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin have succeeded in deflating the ego of an entire generation with “The Social Network.” The movie depicts Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg as a spiteful, vindictive egotist, who created the site as an act of revenge against a woman who dumped him. But the movie is not simply about Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. “Network” puts a mirror to the Internet Generation as a whole—and the reflection is not pretty.
With over 500 million users worldwide, Facebook is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Even though we all lived through Facebook’s meteoric rise to prominence, I suspect most of us are not familiar with its history. “Network” begins with the site’s origin at Harvard University. Undergrad Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) has just had a spectacular break up with his girlfriend. In response, he retires to his dorm room for a night of binge drinking and computer hacking. After his antics bring down the entire Harvard computer network, he draws the attention of some entrepreneurs who have an idea that could change the Internet forever.
The running time of “Network” is about two hours, but it feels more like 20 minutes.
From the first lines of the opening scene, this movie will overtake you with its raw emotions and constant flow of expertly crafted dialog. It is an utterly engrossing experience, paced to perfection by Fincher and his crew. Without question, “Network” is among Fincher’s best work- big words considering his resume includes such cult favorites as “Alien 3” and “Fight Club.” Much of the success of this movie can be attributed to leading man Eisenberg.
The “Zombieland” star is often described as a Michael Cera knockoff, but after seeing him in “Network,” all I can ask is, “Michael who?” His performance as Zuckerberg is layered with subtle mannerisms and facial expressions, giving the character an air of believability.Supporting Eisenberg are youngsters Andrew Garfield (replacement to Tobey Maguire in the upcoming “Spiderman” reboot) and Rooney Mara (s-oon to be star of the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” remake), as well as Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker. The co-stars may be short on big-screen experience, but their performances are anything but amateur. You would be hard-pressed to find a better ensemble cast this year, young or old. Fincher clearly had faith in his young cast, but I suspect that this faith does not carry over to the rest of the nation’s youth. “Network” rips into the “Internet Generation” without mercy, criticizing everything from its lack of work ethic to its atrophied communication skills.
Everyone is talking in “Network,” but no one is listening. The dialog is full of one-way conversations that entangle into a stream of consciousness that is nearly unintelligible to anyone but the speaker – not unlike a conversation on Facebook.
Because the message of “Network” is aimed at such a specific audience, I suspect different generations will have vastly different experiences with it.
For older crowds, it provides some insight into the “Internet Generation” and its fascination with social media. But for those who have fully adopted Facebook into their life, “Network” is almost embarrassing. It feels safe in your Facebook world with your perfect profile picture and approved list of friends — but “Network” destroys that facade, shining a light on the narcissistic and cruel underbelly of social media for all to see. Facebook devotees be warned: You may not be able to look at the site the same way after seeing this movie.No matter your age or level of technological savvy, you owe it to yourself to see this modern masterpiece. As we enter into award show season, “The Social Network” will be the movie to beat.
Michael Brun is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.