Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: The Social Network

The '90s saw the growth of the Internet, but it wasn't until the 2000s, when Web 2.0 started becoming the norm, did the Internet really explode and fill every facet of our life.  Forget the Dot-Com bubble, the true makers and shapers of the Interet didn't come until the early part of the new millennium (or the late part of the old).  Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (now Google), these pillars are surprisingly new and enormously massive in their explosive growth.  The simple fact remains that one or all of these companies permeates our lives and defines a part of each one of us.  It's rare that someone doesn't have a Facebook account, or doesn't watch videos on YouTube, or doesn't use Google's search engine (or any other of its many manifestations.  Plenty of people have Android phones, write on Blogger, use Google Translate, use Google Maps/Earth, pray for Google broadbrand, etc.)  The Internet has morphed from a simple communication network and is now rapidly defining all of our relationships and connections.

Let's get to the movie.  Based off Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires, The Social Network is about the founding of Facebook.  Jesse Eisenberg stars as Facebook's driving force and (co)founder, Mark Zuckerberg.  The film starts with him breaking up with his girlfriend, and being driven out of spite to write nasty things about her on his blog, then create a site called FaceMash, which allows sophomoric Harvard students to rank undergrad girls by their looks (all done in one night while drunk.)  The site gets so many hits that it causes Harvard's network to crash and Eisenberg's/Zuckerberg's antics get him some disciplinary action and earn him the scorn and hatred of every girl on campus, but it also draws the attention of the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer) and their friend/business partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella.)  They pitch the idea for HarvardConnect, an exclusive social network for Harvard students to have profiles and share things like pictures and such.  Zuckerberg duly agrees, but then goes on to make his own site thefacebook with some start up cash from his best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield.)  The site takes off, earning Zuckerberg the ire of the Winklevosses, but the admiration of everyone else.  Soon, Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake, takes notice and wants in on it, bringing in big name connections and start up money.  Minghella has his reservations about Timberlake, but hardly anyone can keep up since the site is expanding so rapidly.  The film switches between the past and Zuckerberg's two depositions (one where he is being sued by the Winklevosses and one where he is being sued by Eduardo.)
I have to say, this is hands down the best movie of 2010 (I expect it to wrap up Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Soundtrack at the Oscars.)  Eisenberg plays the perfect anti-hero in Zuckerberg; he's a someone who is driven by the envy and jealousy of being denied into exclusive clubs.  His drive is to become the exclusivity, for everyone to look up at him and admire and admit their mistakes and wrongs in not acknowledging his genius in the first place.  Money isn't the important thing, respect is.  Timberlake's Parker is more of a Rasputin character, whispering into Zuckerberg's ear and bending him to his will, while Zuckerberg is increasingly antagonistic to his former friends.  The film is tight, brilliantly acted, extremely hilarious, beautifully shot, and incredibly scored.  The music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross enhances the atmosphere and plays beautifully.
The bottom line is, The Social Network is the best movie of 2010, and a wonderful piece of art. 

Score: A  (See this movie soon.  I don't care, shell out the $8 if you must to see it in the theaters.)