Connecting with the Zeitgeist
The Social Network
Direction: David Fincher
Cast: Jesssie Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield
Back in late 2003-early 2004, a nerdy Harvard undergraduate created a social networking website which radically redefined online interaction and quickly became a global phenomenon. Based on the breezy bestseller by Ben Mezrich, this intense cyber-drama recounts the (mostly) true story behind Facebook, the ubiquitous site, which has upward of 500 million users worldwide.
Director Fincher, whose previous film was last year's Oscar-nominated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, utilises an intricate narrative structure which alternates between scenes set in the present and flashbacks to a barely-distant past, to keep us engrossed throughout the two-hours running time.
The screenplay dramatises the believe-it-or-not story material with verbal dexterity. Smarting from a row with his girlfriend, the socially maladroit Internet wizard (Eisenberg, outstanding) posts a nasty blog about her on the campus computer system. An instant success, the controversial online destination eventually leads to the inception of Facebook.
Evidently, The Social Network takes some liberties with the historical record, even inventing the fictional character of the aforementioned girlfriend to propel the plot smoothly.
With a dramaturgy, which places a premium on clarity, the film brings us up close and personal with a narcissistic young man driven by ambition, jealousy and a desire to be accepted by the university elite. Instead, he is faced with a couple of multi-million dollar lawsuits, one from his former friend-cum-business partner (British newcomer Garfield, currently cast as the new Spider-Man) and another from affluent student twins (both played, courtesy digital chicanery, by the same actor, Armie Hammer) who accuse him of stealing the Facebook concept from them.
Despite becoming the world's youngest-ever billionaire, the disaffected protagonist ends up friendless and alone.
Photographed in burnished tones by Fincher's regular collaborator, Jeff Cronenweth (Se7en, Fight Club), the film is further embellished with a mood-enhancing music score by Trent Rezner (front-man for the industrial rock band, 'Nine Inch Nails') and Atticus Ross.
The platinum selling pop star Justin Timberlake is a scream in the role of the celebrity-founder of Napster, the seminal music-sharing service, which almost brought down the recording industry.
Even viewers without any interest in Facebook are likely to concur that the film stands on its own as one of the more rewarding releases of the year. Log in to The Social Network. Now.