Before The Social Network was released it was one of the few movies in 2010 that I knew I just didn’t want to miss seeing at the cinema. Everything just seemed to be in place for the making of a modern classic. A cracking script by Aaron Sorkin based on a book by Ben Mezrich. David Fincher directing – the guy has done no wrong thus far in his career, in my view. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Max Minghella and Armie Hammer in the main roles – all may not be household names but I’m a huge fan of Eisenberg and the cast list signalled something aimed directly at those who had been making the most of Facebook since it’s creation.
I went to the cinema and something amazing happened, something that has been happening less and less frequently in the past few years. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was absolutely blown away by the whole thing and engrossed from beginning to end.
There’s no doubt that certain liberties have been taken with the truth here and there (indeed, Mark Zuckerberg would try to convinve everyone that almost the entire movie is a complete fiction) but this is a barnstorming interpretation of the events that saw Zuckerberg (played, brilliantly, by Jesse Eisenberg) create Facebook and upset a number of people in the process, including the Winklevoss brothers (both played by Armie Hammer, with help from Josh Pence) and Zuckerberg’s best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).
Structurally, the movie starts with the evening that saw the genesis of what would eventually lead to the creation of Facebook and then moves on to show the two major depositions that Zuckerberg is involved in some time later before hopping back and forth between the most important moments in Zuckerberg’s professional life, including his involvement with Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake as the man who created Napster).
What ends up surprising most people when they view The Social Network is just how enjoyable and interesting it all is, quite an achievement considering it’s really the ultimate “nerd made good” tale interspersed by some legal wranglings in a boardroom. Computer programming and depositions do not make for exciting cinema but Fincher spins gold here thanks to the performances, the script so sharp it could be used to provide a clean close shave and his mastery of the camerawork mixing with an unusual, and highly impressive, soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Eisenberg, it must be said, is playing someone who comes across as quite unlikeable but he does it brilliantly, portraying a man as bored and frustrated as he is intelligent. Garfield is more than his equal and when the two are working with, and sometimes against, each other it’s just a double helping of superb acting. Hammer and Minghella are both excellent but it’s worth, perhaps, specifically mentioning how good Justin Timberlake is for those doubtful of the singer’s talent. His portrayal of Sean Parker has the cockiness and showbiz-grin that you’d expect but also changes as we start to see the paranoid, sneaky little man behind the dotcom assurety. Rooney Mara plays Erica Albright, a girl who makes a massive impact on Zuckerberg’s life, and she does very well with her limited screentime. There are plenty of other people in the cast and my not mentioning them is in no way a slight on their performances, it’s simply that this film is full of the right people in the right roles doing the right stuff.I could go on and on but I fear I’ve already spent too much time rambling like a rabid David Fincher fanboy (which, I suppose, I am). This is another cinematic masterpiece from one of my favourite directors.