Brainflow Feed

That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, they revolve mostly around films.)

The Social Network

Monday, October 4th, 2010 1:22 pm—Film

The Social Network (USA 2010, Drama/History), Writer: Aaron Sorkin; Director: David Fincher

When I saw the trailer for The Social Network, I was immediately impressed. It was obvious that the movie was a slick production and that the lead performance by Jesse Eisenberg was a knockout. But then one of the characters mentioned “Facebook” and I thought, “How is that going to work?”

Here’s how: By pairing an incredibly visual veteran director with a screenwriter who has an uncanny knack for brilliant, rapid-fire dialogue, and equipping them both with a phenomenal cast (with one distraction, but I’ll expand on that later). Not to mention a haunting and evocative soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Director David Fincher (Se7en, The Game, Fight Club) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, TV’s The West Wing) did an outstanding job with The Social Network. They managed to tell the story of Facebook’s genesis in a way that’s both emotionally profound and stylistically sophisticated. The pair makes programming and depositions fascinating—even fun—through razor-sharp dialogue that features countless hilarious one-liners, and inventive direction/editing that continually references the social network Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) simultaneously tries to hack into and snub his nose at.

The movie recounts the creation of Facebook and the associated lawsuits brought against Zuckerberg. Eisenberg is spot-on as the bitter, socially inept young genius; I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get an Academy Award nomination for his work here. In fact, almost the entire cast is pitch perfect—including Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and Rooney Mara as Zuckerberg’s very short-term girlfriend Erica Albright (both of whom seem poised for stardom with upcoming lead roles in Spiderman 3D and Hollywood’s take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, respectively).

As I mentioned earlier, there was one anomaly in the cast: Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker. Granted, Timberlake has great talent. But it lies in music, not acting. It isn’t that he’s terrible in the movie; it’s just that the other actors are playing in another league. To me, Timberlake was the only weak link in an otherwise flawless cast. (Mind you, my youngest sister, who saw The Social Network with me, didn’t mind him; she “loved that it was JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE playing such a skeez.”)

That got me thinking. While the credits rolled, I started to wonder how much of The Social Network was accurate, how much of the heartbreaking love story with Erica was manufactured to serve as tidy bookends to the movie. A quick search on Google reveals that the real-life Zuckerberg is engaged to a woman he met in his sophomore year at Harvard. He wouldn’t have been lamenting the loss of another woman when Facebook launched. In fact, the film isn’t based directly on Zuckerberg’s story; it’s based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal.

But I realized it didn’t matter whether or not The Social Network was historically accurate, because it’s still true to life. Justin Timberlake, with his superstar lore that extends to Britney Spears in her glory days, represents who the fictionalized Zuckerberg wants to be, how he wishes he were seen. It becomes very easy to imagine how Zuckerberg could be seduced by someone like Parker. Seen in that light, I can understand why Timberlake was cast. Regardless of his performance, his stardom feeds into the representation of Parker as a beacon and a powerful influence in Zuckerberg’s life.

Just as Timberlake’s spin on Parker lends greater credibility to the character, so does the filmmakers’ take on Facebook bring added relevance and significance to the story. The Social Network is a representation of how one person’s loneliness and isolation could inspire him to create the world’s biggest social network out of vengeance. Whether or not the film really tells Mark Zuckerberg’s story, it’s still the very real story of what can happen when someone is ostracized and pushed too far.

As portrayed by Eisenberg, Zuckerberg is a profoundly gifted young man who is probably too smart for his own good. His keen insights into facts and figures are diametrically opposed to his understanding of human emotion and relationships. He’s desperate to connect, but seems to be doing everything in his power to push others away and make that connection impossible. Here’s a man capable of creating a brilliant means of enabling “connection,” but incapable of creating a framework in which he can love and be loved.

The Social Network is an unmitigated hit on all fronts. It’s fast, engaging and hard-hitting. It’s also incredibly timely, poignant and sad. It represents a fabulous collaboration in which all the parts are on the money and add up to much more than their sum.

Now, having watched the film, I can say that its trailer is one of the most apt I’ve ever seen. It’s an excellent snapshot of what The Social Network really is, starting with the, well, creepy rendition of Radiohead’s Creep that beautifully captures the sadness at the film’s core. In the end, both the trailer and the film leave us with this final thought: “I don’t belong here.” Does anyone?

And now, to post this on Facebook…

2 Responses

  1. Camille

    cool… looking forward to seeing this! awesome review. i’m glad you do this, it’s a good guide for me in terms of what to see. i wouldn’t have the patience! 🙂

  2. amanda

    hey Camille! so happy to see you posting here 🙂 I’m loving your blog, too. Definitely make a point of seeing this one…

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