Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friend Request Pending

Editors note: This was written in 2010, way before the Oscars. So its a bit dated.

A more humorous title for this film would have been "Facebook: The Movie." When I first heard of this film, I wasn't sure what to think. Then the favorable reviews poured in, and I became rather curious. The Social Network lives up to the hype, largely because of David Fincher's direction, and also due to Aaron Sorkin's sharp screenplay. Whether or not its truly accurate (probably 60-70% true) is up for debate, especially considering Mark Zurkerberg's criticisms of the film. His reaction is rather unsurprising, because the movie paints him and most of the main players involved in a negative light. This shouldn't lead the audience to ignore the fact that the film also tackles the subject matter in a rather complex manner, one that is actually rather honest as well.

Really though that's often the nature of capitalism: its a nasty business, existing in an endless state of nature. The strong and smart survive; the weak and slow don't, and getting there first is all that matters. Sure Zurckerberg was incredibly smart, yet he also understood the concept of getting ahead. Even if it involved stealing an idea from what were supposed to be his collaborators, who were a pair of twins and their friend. Or going with the advice of a self-serving "friend" in Shaun Parker, even though that decision leads to his only friend, Eduardo, getting screwed over.

Zuckerberg's decisions lead him down a road that ends in great personal wealth, but also leave him feeling a bit empty. The final shot not only reflects this, but also manages to be pitch perfect and sadly humorous. I am somewhat reminded of Citizen Kane here with, Eduardo in the Joseph Cotton role and Zuckerberg's ex-girlfriend almost serving as Rosebud, or as Kane's second ex-wife, who never understood him. One could almost see this as being true, although I am not entirely convinced that Fincher and Sorkin have simply remade an American classic.

For one thing, The Social Network in the end has rather different subtexts, and tone wise the two movies are not the same. Unlike Citizen Kane, where we never understand Kane and that film's ending makes that clear, Fincher never leaves any doubt about who or what Zuckerberg really is. "Your not an asshole, Mark. You just try really hard to be one," is a perfect line, and expertly sums up what the audience is left to think.

In fact, that may be The Social Network's major flaw (there are minor ones, of course, but I'm not one to nitpick)-that its perhaps too easy to decide how one feels about Zuckerberg even though Fincher wisely abandons standard biopic cliches and makes a really smart movie. One that is really a truly 21st century movie for the modern, current technology based generation. Something that may date the movie when its examined decades later, that's a risk that most movies take, anyways.

Come Oscar time, hopefully Trent Reznor and Adam Ross' fantastic score doesn't get overlooked. Whether or not its great cast, Fincher and Sorkin, or anyone else involved gets noticed come awards time is irrelevant to me. Although one would hope that in a rather weak year, one of the best, if not the best, movies of 2010 gets a best picture nod, at least. 100

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