The Social Network
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake, Joseph Mazzello
Release date: September 24, 2010
“I need to do something substantial in order to get the attention of the clubs because they are exclusive and lead to a better life.”
This quote comes from Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg, a founder of Facebook, while discussing to his soon to be ex-girlfriend what he hopes to get out of the Harvard experience. The movie shows the pursuit and systematic exercise of belonging. No matter how we get the observation from someone we are dying to impress or mock, just as long as we get it. The infectious poison that urges man to reign over all has been rapidly diffused throughout David Fincher‘s new film The Social Network. The movie is about the consequences of moral transgressions and the physical, social, and moral decay. The decay pervades our sordid society; a society that feasts on fame, glory and fortune.
Fincher’s films tend to see America as being corrupt, beyond excessive, and pretty much beyond any help. Zodiac focused on a maniacal killer excessively obsessed with captivating the media, and a journalist excessively obsessed with finding him. Fight Club viewed the American culture as an all consuming monster who feasts on the emotionally and morally weak. Seven took place in an unspecified city seduced and conquered by sin. The Social Network observes a young man who realizes what the potential prizes, celebrations and glories of creating Facebook can do for him. He becomes drunk on the excessive success that he will achieve. He will have come to embody the essence of Jay Gatsby, the anti-hero in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. Jay desired to be exclusive. Motivated by this he cheated, stole and lied to gain his lofty reputation to impress those he wanted to impress, especially a woman.
Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) has built his reputation on lies, just like Jay had done. Only difference is that Mark is lying in 2003 while Jay did it in the 1920s. Mark receives attention from the upper-classmen after he breaches the university’s computer system and created a site that determined whether a female student was hot or not. The site received an outrageous number of hits within a single night. Authorities approach Mark and put him on academic probation.
The upper-classmen are the wealthy Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer plays both brothers through special-effects and a body double) and their friend Divya Narendra (Max Minghela). They have a website idea and would love to have Mark help them program it. They tell him his helping them will repair his image with authorities and his ex-girlfriend. He tells them he is in. They give him information. But his intent won’t be to help them; his intent is only meant to benefit his own ideas. With a mentality this corrosive it is no wonder why Mr. Zuckerberg is friendless.
Friendships are even ruined as a result of this decay. The desire for greed is such an indefatigable entity that it punishes those who don’t perceive the idea of moderation. Two examples are Mark and Eduardo (a pitch-perfect Andrew Garfield), best friends who both go to Harvard and both are computer geniuses. Mark has an idea for a social website (thanks to the twins and their friend). He needs Eduardo’s money to help back the idea up. Eduardo doesn’t think twice, lends Mark the money, and lets him do what he needs to do. Facebook becomes a reality. It begins with the students at Harvard and slowly engages other Ivy League schools. Then it starts to spread all over the country like a virus. Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), a leach in disguise, sees the potential of this Facebook phenomenon. He then wants on board. Eduardo doesn’t favor Sean’s presence but he wants to make a profit. Sean can help with that but not by going with Eduardo’s idea of promoting ads on the site. Mark doesn’t seem to be interested in a profit but favors Sean’s perspectives. Mark is only interested in the action and thrill of making all this possible, ready to eliminate anyone who gets in his way.
The decay in the decadent and the wrought in the prestigious, even in the exclusive Harvard university clubs does this occur. We see the male students in these elite clubs bus in beautiful women from around the city for mere sexual reasons. We see students who have a wealthy inheritance demanding special treatment. And we see a sophisticated thief masquerading as an innocent nerd dressed in a hoodie, wrinkled t-shirt and cargo shorts hopping from class to dorm room where he mischievously creates a social network that allows individuals to share their life with each other. Mark Zuckerberg is the Charles Foster Kane of our generation.
Yeah, the fruition of Facebook is important, but Fincher doesn’t find it a necessity to indulge in it. He gives us the story, told in a non-linear fashion, but finds more interest within the characters’ ambitions, motives, and prejudices. How the creation of Facebook came to be is just a dessert, the main course is watching the film’s characters trying to endure a gauntlet of evil vices. A celebration of discovering Facebook cannot be found in Fincher’s film or a promotion of it. Gloom and despondency are of eminent importance here. There is a faint glimmer of happiness but that rapidly becomes intangible, paving the way for a film perpetuated by loneliness and hatred. Inevitably, the characters cannot escape this dreadful atmosphere. They afflicted it upon themselves, along with remorse and suffering. In exchange for fame and riches they have constructed an immoral framework around themselves, confining them for however long to remain malicious to one another.
With this film we see a filmmaker at the peak of his powers. The first half hour is dizzying; firmly establishing a mood that we haven’t seen in cinema the last couple of years. Fincher is incorporating the correct ingredients that go into making a powerful film. The piercing dialogue by Aaron Sorkin (writer of The West Wing), so quick and argumentative, finds balance with the unprecedented score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Fincher puts on screen with unmatched vivacity an array of different atmospheres in which the dialogue coincides with availingly. Fincher sees the college world, law world, business world and party world keenly. His vision is outstretched, not straining the least bit in his successful attempt at exemplifying the unique aspects of each environment and each human.
Rating: **** of ****