Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake,  Rooney Mara, Joseph Mazzello, Bryan Barter

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Aaron Sorkin, Ben Mezrich (novel)

Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth

Original Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Running Time: 122 mins.

Largely known since its original announcement as “The Facebook Film” The Social Network is not called that for a very good reason, it is as much about Facebook as Fight Club was about fights, in other words if all you take from this cinema experience is the story of Facebook you really are missing the point as with all those dumbasses that watch and cite Fight Club as their favourite film “because of the fights and manliness of it all”, fools that they are! So what is The Social Network about? One critic has elated it as it the “film that defines a decade” which quite frankly pretty much sums the experience up nicely, though to deny the picking apart of what exactly makes it so good and such a defining piece of art is a misgiving in itself.

Much has been made of the team-up of director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin, though in truth it is Sorkin who seems to have found the majority of plaudits, rightly so as his script is a thing of beauty, witty, breathless and kinetic it keeps the film hurtling along at 100mph rarely stopping for breath, or allowing the characters to at least, anyone familiar with The West Wing or the hugely under-rated Charlie Wilson’s War will know what I mean. He can write characters so morally ambiguous and often loathsome and make them into curiosities that we learn to love for their eccentricities, which is precisely why tackling (now) moguls such as Napster founder Sean Parker and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is the perfect fit. It is unlikely any other writer could have made these men as interesting to watch and at once so likeable while being effectively villains is the traditional sense of the word.

Of course it helps that the parts have been written for actors that can play the roles to perfection, embodying those characters and making you forget you’re watching people act, in the finest possible way. Thankfully, and rather amazingly, this is an across the board feat, with every person regardless of the size of their part fitting just perfectly, Justin Timberlake is the sleek and shark-like Parker, playing off Zuckerberg’s frailties while Andrew Garfield is effectively the good guy, despairing at the loss of his friend while trying to reclaim what is his, but inevitably it is Jesse Eisenberg who is the standout, his is a name that deserves mention in the same breath as “Oscar Buzz” and there is unlikely going to be a performance to match his this year. Zuckerberg is a nasty piece of work, there is little denying but the machinations for this are those that many an unpopular student will recognise, he simply craves the popularity of those jocks that are the foundation of the clubs and societies.

In this respect he isn’t technically a “bad guy” rather a guy trying to be bad or as a character late in the film puts it “trying to be an asshole”, soemthing which he does with aplomb, in fact to draw on fight club it would be prudent to draw lines between the characters of Parker and Tyler Durden and Zuckerberg and The Narrator, two sides of the same psyche both vying for attention. The similarities to that masterpiece do not end there, depth is something most films strive for yet very few actually achieve, and after the slight and shallow nature of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Fincher is back on safer ground. Studies of the human condition seem to be the mans forte, especially the darker reccesses of it, and while Zuckerberg, Parker and the Winklevos twins aren’t killers or fascists they are the monsters on the new-age.

Finchers stamp obviously goes beyond the sub-conscious, as ever his visuals are impeccable and though they are not showy, this is a film that has little time for set-pieces, there are standout scenes that are as kinetic as the action that happens via words. A scene set against the backdrop of a nightclub and a boat race that takes place during the Henley Regatta are big, loud, visual beasts searing into your memory as much as the dialogue will. Only time will tell but I would almost certainly put this up there as one of Fincher’s very best, and that is damn high praise indeed!

VERDICT

The Social Network defines the decade” – Rolling Stone….I can’ t really put it any better than that!

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