Monday, October 18, 2010

The Social Network

On paper, the story behind The Social Network should be about as exciting as being stuck in the audience for ITVs "An evening with Nigel Mansell", namely a courtroom drama telling the tale of rich, arrogant, cleverer-than-you-and-boy-don't-they-know-it socially inept individuals befriending, defriending and suing other rich, arrogant, cleverer-than-you-and-boy-don't-they-know-it individuals.  However, the combination of direction, excellent acting and genuinely tense plotting make this way more than that.

For those of you who have been stuck in a hole for three months (that'll be the Chilean Miners then) The Social Network is David Finchers adaptation of the Ben Mezrich book "The Accidental Billionaires", the story of the individuals behind the creation of Facebook - and more to the point, the subsequent betrayals and legal actions resulting from its creation and incredible success.

Mezrich has admitted (much like David Peace and "The Damned United") that the story isn't necessarily the entire truth and may be largely apocryphal, with huge swathes of it there to enforce drama - the thing about stories like this is that the people involved have either paid or have been paid large sums of money to ensure the actual truth will never be known.  Effectively, The Social Network is a semi-fictional account of a true story.

Michael Cera Jessie Eisenberg plays out-of-type as the geeky, intelligent, socially inept to the point of autistic Mark Zuckerberg, creator and developer behind TheFacebook, an exclusive Harvard only website, far from the Farm/Frontier/abattoirville riddled monstrosity that it's evolved into today.  Note I didn't state he was also the brains behind it - that's where the majority of the legal action in the movie stems from; Whether he was or not is arguable.  Was the concept mostly his, or did he simply run with somebody elses idea and make it better?  When does a basic idea become intellectual property?

The comment about Jessie above was somewhat snide - Much like Michael Cera, the two of them only seem to portray the same types of character.  The two of them must have to fight it out in an hollywood arena to see who gets the next big socially awkward, clumsy but loveable part in a movie (although after seeing Michael Ceras kick-ass fighting skills in Scott Pilgrim, it can't be a fair fight any longer).  However, Eisenberg is a revelation in this - He's never anything less than completely convincing, and as despicable an individual as he's made out to be throughout most of the film, is strangely likeable at the same time.  You wouldn't want him as friend in real life admittedly, but there's something refreshingly naive about him.

The supporting cast are also outstanding; Andrew Garfield (shortly to be Spiderman in the unnecessary reimagining, film-fact fans) is brilliant as Zuckerbergs long suffering only friend Eduardo Saverin.  Armie Hammer plays twins (Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss - or "The Winklevi" as Zuckerberg refers to them in one scene) in an effect so convincing you wouldn't know the role wasn't being played by two actors.  The story is gripping throughout but directed with a restraint not typical of David Fincher (apart from one hyper-kinetically directed rowing scene - probably the closest thing to an action sequence in the entire film). 

So, Mark Zuckerberg - hero or villain?  A minor character has a throwaway line which pretty much sums up the entire film; "Every creation myth needs a devil".  Mildly pretentious a statement though that may be, it's a neat synopsis of the entire story. 

I'd normally award a film some odd combination of FoldsFives out of a larger number of FoldsFives, but it seems somewhat appropriate in this case to simply state:

"David Court likes The Social Network"


  1. And a beautiful score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch.

    It's actually quite an unusual film as no-one died at any point. Name the last time you saw a film with no death in it.

  2. Good point. The Reznor and Atticus Ross soundtrack was brilliant.


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