I do not care about the veracity of “The Social Network.” Facebook creator/founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg states that the film is entirely false. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin argues the opposite. While I lean more towards the claim of the latter, the authenticity factor is moot. Facebook could have never existed and “The Social Network” still would have remained a triumph; it prevails as either fiction or nonfiction.
Here is a movie all about people, their actions, and the consequences that came as a result. At the center of the story is an invention, an idea, but surrounding it are the people betrayed, the backs stabbed, and the fingers pointed; all of which led to dual lawsuits filed against Mark Zuckerberg at roughly the same time.
Cutting between flashbacks and deposition rooms, conflicting sides of the argument are never favored, and we as an audience are never fully capable of distinguishing fact from emotional testimony and perjury. One viewer’s interpretation of who is right will be another’s opinion on who is wrong, and this makes “The Social Network” a landmark in master storytelling.
Precise. Peerless. Just about perfect.
Sorkin’s screenplay engages the viewer immediately with dialogue that kicks off strong and never seems to interrupt its flow for all of two hours. The script seems to require of its actors a maximum lung capacity; the words so smooth, smart, and fast-paced that I’m shocked those speaking weren’t gasping for oxygen between lines. Combined with the brilliant, transfixing, industrial score by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross, “The Social Network” is a textbook example on the blending of words, visuals, and sounds.
Jesse Eisenberg is superior as Mark, an assertion only confirmed by watching actual interview footage with Zuckerberg. The lack of blinking, the subtle hints of social disconnection, the modesty mixed with stubbornness; it’s all there in Eisenberg’s performance. In a scene where Mark erupts in a deposition room, chills are unavoidable in watching Eisenberg effortlessly take control and deliver quite possibly the film’s highest moment of acting. As of now, he has given the performance of the year.
Andrew Garfield, as Mark’s roommate and Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin, is just as affecting in his passionate performance. Aside from landing the role as the next Spiderman, the actor’s performances in both “The Social Network” and the eerie drama “Never Let Me Go” have made any question of his talents obsolete.
Justin Timberlake takes charismatic command in his moments as Sean Parker, the creator of Napster; a rock star entrepreneur who initially helps Facebook take off, all while pulling Mark into the glitz and glamour that come with success. Newcomer Armie Hammer, who plays twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, is highly proficient in tackling two roles at the same time.
From scene to scene, director David Fincher cuts the footage with a virtuoso knack for capturing detail, mood, and atmosphere near immaculately. When Mark is brutally dumped at the inception of the film, he returns to his Harvard dorm and hatefully writes on his blog, drinks, and creates a website which ranks female students in competition based on their attractiveness.
Mark elaborately hacks and the website, once live, garners 22,000 hits in just a few hours and crashes the Harvard server. The sequence resonates with the suspense and exhilaration of an action film. In fact, it’s even better.
“The Social Network” is a definitive film of our generation. In an internet-driven age where everyone has an outlet for their ideas to be expressed, this film examines which voices deserve to be heard, and how easily they can be challenged. The characters in this film are essentially an assortment of human flaws, all of which will ultimately mirror the audience in one way or another.
Socially, historically, and emotionally, “The Social Network” defines us. Decades from now, it very well could become a classic.
Greg Vellante is a film critic for The Eagle Tribune.