David Fincher gets a second chance at that Academy Award for Best Director with what is probably the most talked-about movie of last year (and this year so far). There's quite a debate about whether or not this is truly Fincher's best. I too am having a hard time with that. It's not as audacious as "Seven" or "Fight Club", or as ambitious as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", but it is not without its merits. "The Social Network", or as it's usually known "The Facebook Movie", is a powerful and relevant portrayal of how one of the biggest phenomenons of the 21st century was born and who was behind it, complete with the eternal stories of friendship and betrayal, of which we get plenty of insight as the story also follows the devastating lawsuits that Zuckerberg faced.
There have been a lot of discussions regarding how accurate the movie is in its portrayal. Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter, and Ben Mezrich, the author of the book the script is adapted from, have come under fire for taking too many liberties with Zuckerberg's story. I have learned a long time ago to never take movies or books too seriously when they claim to be accounts of real events. For example, look up the story of the real John Nash and then watch "A Beautiful Mind". Quite a discrepancy. So, instead, I judge the story they tell. So, is the story of "The Social Network" engrossing ? Yes. Is Aaron Sorkin's screenplay truly as witty and incisive as advertised ? Yes. Does it make you think and ponder different issues like communication in the modern age or the value of friendship versus the importance of personal achievement ? Yes. After all, we don't really go to movies looking for historical accuracy. We seek to be entertained, provoked, immersed, and Fincher's digital age saga does exactly that, while also providing a painfully honest look into a world where for something to truly matter, it has to be online.
A lawyer's assistant sums it up pretty well in one scene : "Bosnia...they don't have roads, but they have Facebook". Sure, it's an exaggeration, and it probably upset many bosnians, but the point is that sometimes technology shields us from our surrounding reality to the point where we become blind. Facebook is a sort of an alternate reality where people get together and share information. The degree of shallowness inherent in using Facebook is debatable, but what is unquestionable is the fact that it has achieved its goal : to connect and addict, to be successful, to be the first of its kind. Fincher attempts to understand how and why Facebook became a global success, and what the human cost was. Zuckerberg is shown to be ruthless, cruel, but a genius nonetheless. He snaps back shrewd answers, betrays his best friend, ignores the notion of fair play, yet you sort of fall in admiration for what he achieves. Jesse Eisenberg does a wonderful job in crafting that image of Zuckerberg (inaccurate as it may be to the real person). Eisenberg has been turning in good work for some time now, but it's here, as a cold, sarcastic, power hungry, even subtly tormented Mark Zuckerberg, where he really shines. Andrew Garfield as co-founder of Facebook and Zuckerberg's close friend turns in an equally solid performance, and both of them deserve at least an Academy Award nomination.
I shouldn't end this review without mentioning the technical aspects of this movie. The trademark dark Fincher cinematography is present, thanks to Jeff Cronenweth, who also worked with him on "Fight Club", and it looks amazing as always. Also worthy of mention are the smart editing and atmospheric original score, which greatly add to the movie, giving it a sort of hipnotic edge that just sucks you in. Fincher has never missed a beat when it comes to giving his movie a polished look, but this time, you hardly even pay attention to all that. Every bit of post-production work meshes into the movie so well, you'll never really stop to think about it. You'll just get swept away by the balanced pacing, the spellbinding dialogue and excellent acting. Truly one of the best last year had to offer.