The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Social Network

I saw the previews and all I could think was, "Really? A Facebook movie?" Of all the things, people and stories out there that deserve a feature film -- or would at least make an interesting movie -- why would something as dumb as a social networking site get a movie? Well, I was wrong. The story of how Facebook came to be is a twisting, always interesting story, told in 2010's The Social Network.

 An undergrad at Harvard in 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) wants nothing more than to be BIG, to accomplish something impressive with his life. After drawing the ire of the administration for creating a program that had students compare how "hot" other students were, Mark is approached by a Final Club and agrees to create a networking site so Harvard students can link up. Some 42 days later with financial backing from friend/roommate Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Mark goes live with his own site, a slightly tweaked version of the one he was asked to do. Word spreads and students start to join his own social networking site, the Facebook, until it becomes an Internet juggernaut. But success, fame and an ever-growing successful site threaten to make Mark's supposedly genuine intentions something much darker.

I'm slightly embarrassed to write what I'm about to write, but here goes. I joined Facebook in fall of 2004 as an undergrad at Indiana University, and in the 8 years since, it has seemingly changed, evolved and developed into an Internet monstrosity. It's weird to get so nostalgic about something that happened so recently. Ah, the good old days when you had to have a college/university e-mail address to even create a profile on Facebook. Now, anyone from your grandparents to your little cousins can be on the damn thing. Seeing a movie about that development -- relationship statuses, the Wall, tagging, pictures -- is certainly interesting.

More than that though, throwing aside that quasi-nostalgia value, this is just a good movie. The intrigue, betrayals and backstabbing that made Facebook what it is today provides quite a backdrop for the story. Armie Hammer plays a dual role, Tyler and Cameron Vinklevoss, the Harvard crew team twins, who with their friend, Divya (Max Minghella), present Mark with their idea for the networking site. So starts the process that turns Facebook into a multi-billion dollar idea. Without giving away any details or twists, the story is far more complicated than I ever thought/knew. It's fascinating to watch in a way I never thought crazy, addicting old Facebook ever could be.

The crux and heart of the movie is the relationship between Zuckerberg and Eduardo, both Eisenberg and Garfield delivering great performances. As presented here (and supposedly what he's like in real life), Zuckerberg is an individual who is easy to HATE. Condescending, passive aggressive, pretentious, a know-it-all, and in general, an a-hole, Zuckerberg is a despicable individual. Okay, that may be harsh, but I intensely disliked him. Through it all (well, mostly), Garfield's Eduardo sticks by him as their site grows even when Mark seems to be doing his best to piss him off and drive him away. Hate or love them, the performances are great. Also look for a scene-stealing Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, the eccentric Napster founder who works with Mark as Facebook grows. Rashida Jones has a good part as a lawyer involved in the cases that ensues while Rooney Mara makes a memorable appearance as Erica, Mark's girlfriend and then ex-girlfriend.

Director David Fincher has certainly been on a hot streak recently including this film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Zodiac, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He was nominated for Best Director (losing to Tom Hooper for The King's Speech), as was the film but lost there too. His shooting style is present again, dark and shadowy. He's working with a script from Aaron Sorkin -- never a bad thing -- and the style and dialogue is quick and snappy. The story is told via two separate flashbacks so we see a plan come together and then from the flashbacks know it won't go smoothly. The music comes from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the score in incredibly subtle fashion backing the story up.

Not just that Facebook movie, this was a very good movie, one I wish I hadn't been so stubborn about. Now off to see if I have any new notifications!

The Social Network <---trailer (2010): ***/****


  1. Good review. I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to. Rewatched it a month or so ago and found it held up. Agreed about Mark being an insufferable ass. I've argued at length with some clods who thought he was sympathetic; pitiable at best, given how every setback is his own fault.

  2. I guess it depends on your point of view, but I found nothing sympathetic at all about Mark so I'm with you! The whole scorned ex thing didn't work either, making him more unbearable. Glad I caught up with the movie though.