Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Social Network

The Social Network

  • Released Internationally on 01/10/10
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 15/10/10

Preview (first published 01/10/10 in VIDA magazine)

In a nutshell

At very least, if you don't own a Facebook account, you'll have heard about it, read about it in the papers, or seen someone's photos on it. In less than a decade it has mushroomed into an internet brand as recognisable as Google and YouTube, which of course means that somewhere, someone is extremely rich.

Why we're hyped

When I first heard that a movie was being made about Facebook, I admit I thought it was some laughable attempt at cashing in on its immense popularity. But it turns out that someone had written a rather sordid book ('The Accidental Billionaires') chronicling the campus and board-room struggle that characterised the birth of Facebook back in 2004. When business-savvy whizz-kids stumble upon a winning formula, and billions are at stake, you can imagine that there will be lots of interest and intrigue when it comes to sharing the pie. And sure enough the film trailers that have been released so far promise a thriller far more gripping than the title would suggest. The tagline is quite eloquent - “You don't get to 500 millions friends without making a few enemies”.

Who's in it?

Another major reason why this film looks promising is the man in the director's chair. When it was announced that David Fincher was going to call the shots, I for one realised that there must be something in the script that has the makings of a great film. With excellent and adored films such as Fight Club, Seven, and Zodiac under his belt, Fincher also recently showed us how versatile he is by helming the picture-perfect (although rather long) fairytale The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. With him attached, the focus then shifted to who would portray the real-life protagonists of this very recent history. Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Zombieland) looks and sounds the part as Mark Zuckerberg. Listed by Forbes as the world's youngest billionaire, Zuckerberg was one of the co-founders of Facebook, and currently owns one quarter of the empire, besides running the show. Not bad for a 25 year-old. Andrew Garfield (Doctor Parnassus, the upcoming Never Let Me Go, and the next Spider-man) is Eduardo Saverin, who co-founded back in 2004 but has now left the company, under not-so-happy circumstances. Justin Timberlake (who seems to be doing more acting and less gyrating nowadays) rounds off the main trio as Sean Parker, who used to be the President of the company, and who once upon a time co-founded Napster. They've all more or less distanced themselves from the film, claiming things are blown out of proportion – but that was to be expected considering the dirty-laundry aspect of the story. It now remains to be seen whether the vast swathes of people who spend much more than two hours a week on Facebook will want to spend two hours seeing how it was founded, but based on the trailers and the pedigree I'd venture a yes.


Review (17/09/10)


Jesse Eisenberg portrays the main guy with a powerful yet nuanced performance. How much of what he injects into the character is true is for Zuckerberg's close friends to decide, but from a normal viewer's perspective this is definitely a fascinating character who commands everyone's attention for the duration of the film. Fincher doesn't hold back, and from the opening scene it is quickly established that this is no likeable hero. He may be at his best in front of the computer screen, but out in the open world, social interaction is not part of his comfort zone. Which is obviously very relevant considering the virtual social network he has built for over 500 million people. Where the film excels, however, is managing to earn our respect for Zuckerberg, despite his lack of people skills. It's obviously assumed that the guy must be super smart, but the script breaks that down into small daily episodes that leave you with the realisation that it was no accident why this guy, and not one of the many other hopefuls, founded the Facebook behemoth.

His friends list

Despite Eisenberg ruling the film, all the other players give wonderful performances, especially Garfield as the estranged Eduardo Saverin, and Timberlake as the flamboyant and impressive Parker. The latter is obviously very comfortable in his role, and he manages to show exactly why Zuckerberg was in awe of him, and Saverin was evidently not. The script cleverly switches between recounting the events, and taking us through the two ensuing legal battles, which allows a structured telling of the tale without resorting to normal voiceover or random flashbacks. It keep the film moving forward swiftly, and the fact that we know where the train is heading doesn't make the ride any less enjoyable.

In the end

This is one of the best films of the year, largely thanks to its fascinating depiction of very recent history, and its sharp and clever script. There's a mountain of memorable lines, and the witty banter and duelling make it as exciting as any action film. Mostly, however, its a brilliant depiction of a generation, and the birth of internet giants in these years where a simple online idea can very quickly become one of the world's biggest bands. If you're not one of the 500 million, you can rest assured that there's a lot to be learnt and enjoyed for everyone here, not just Facebook addicts. It's an inspiring tale of entrepreneurship, creativity and determination, and it's all the more impressive considering it all happened during the past decade. The Social Network. Mark likes this.




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