Review by Vives Anunciacion
Inquirer Libre, October 18, 2010
The Social Network
Directed by David Fincher
Based on the novel The Accidental Billionaire by Ben Mezrich, The Social Network is a fictionalized drama of what happened when internet megasite Facebook was born. It is not a two-hour advertisement of the site. It is not a movie about nerds trying to hack a supercomputer to save the world, it’s more like courtroom tennis match set in Harvard, and the grand prize is the addiction of 500 million internet users worldwide.
Set in the halls of Harvard University in 2003, The Social Network tells how Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and best friend Eduardo Saverin (the next Spider Man, Andrew Garfield) started Facebook, how others claimed the idea was stolen from them, and how Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) weaved himself into Zuckerberg’s life that led to Saverin’s being booted from Facebook. Plus or minus everything that happened in between, depending on who is telling the story.
Pencilled to perfection by A Few Good Men and The West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin and glorified onscreen by career-defining performances from Eisenberg, Garfield, and yes, even Timberlake, The Social Network establishes David Fincher in the pantheon of the masters of the medium. Understated, subtle and refined, TSN slaps you hard on the face not once, but three times.
First with the opening scene that throws away the rulebooks on how a film traditionally should open. It shows two persons talking in a bar for 9 minutes. Simple and quiet, it manages to accomplish what an opening scene should do without even trying. Fincher delivers his first lecture in masterclass filmmaking.
Come early and get a seat during the trailers: the film starts as soon as the Columbia logo appears.
The second slap happens three-fourths into the film – by then all the truths and counter-truths and the manipulation have been exposed that Saverin, defeated, dumbfounded by what Zuckerberg has done to him, could only say, “I was your only friend.” So disgusted was I at Zuckerberg at this point that I wanted to erase all of my social networking accounts.
The third slap comes at the final scene (now famously referred to as the Citizen Kane ending.) As simple and understated as the opening scene, the final scene encapsulates the enigma of the entire film: is everyone a victim, or does everyone deserve it?
Cinema is the most unique of the arts in the sense that it combines different forms (literary, visual design/ photography, performance, music) into a unified entity. The Social Network is such an example of a singular vision that expertly synthesizes all its elements, as close to perfection as a film can get.
Maybe it is true that this film defines the attitudes of a generation – that generation of middle class which grew up with cellphones and internet connection obsessed with individuality. Yet by exclusion, the film also defines those who are out of the loop – that those who cannot ride the digital age will, just as Zuckerberg tells Saverin in the film, get left behind.
Truly, the revolution will not be televised.