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The Social Network
Genre Drama
Year: 2010
 
Review:

The Social Network is a timely story about the founders of Facebook and their legal disputes on the back of unprecedented viral Internet growth and accidental billionaires. Whatever your take on the social online platform, The Social Network movie  seems to have everyone hitting 'Like'… If you’re connected to the Internet, chances are that you rely on Facebook as entertainment, a networking tool, a virtual grapevine or local news feed. The Social Network points out the social platform's addictive qualities, but it's true reflection mirrors the ugly side of contemporary society and narcissistic over-reliance. The quick review: it's excellent and compelling even, but you won't be rushing out to buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Ironically, it's a heart matter that starts this roller-coaster as Facebook founder and Internet billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) is dumped and inadvertently crashes Harvard's powerful servers with a "Hot or Not" inspired website, motivated by a drunk and bitter lashing out at all the women in the university. The semi-biographical rise of Zuckerberg is followed in all the back room negotiations with former colleagues all wanting a piece of the rampant billionaire-making Internet phenomenon.

David Fincher's The Social Network is gripping, compelling and features grand performances, most notably from Jesse Eisenberg in what will no doubt earn him an Oscar nomination. However, the selfishness at the core of this drama is absorbing to the point that you fail to connect emotionally with the characters. A powerhouse performance from Eisenberg provides the foundation for this clash of young and old money as a more savvy version of The Skulls plays out in legal proceedings and clubs rather than under the auspices of a dark, underground secret society.

The Social Network is based on Ben Mezrich's novel, The Accidental Billionaires, and has been adapted by Aaron Sorkin. Most films these days seem to get the go-ahead on the back of a substantial fan base and since Facebook is the quintessential fan base, arguably the largest, it was only a matter of time before the controversial back story of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg was aired in film format. The social network has become a social phenomenon reconnecting old friends, lovers and forging new business ties. It's easy to see how dramatically it's altered our social spheres from chance meetings to instant "adds". This is probably a direct result of the Internet as a catalyst for globalisation, however this doesn't change the fact that many have integrated their real lives with this social channel.

The concept of the Internet billionaire isn't new as witnessed in the arrival of Napster's founder, Sean Parker (Timberlake), but this tale of greed, intellectual property and trust is a good example of an "overnight success". Ben Mezrich also wrote Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, which was later adapted into 21 with Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey. These stories of "nerds" getting one over on "the Man" show a fascination with societal revenge and a revulsion toward authority. Hippies fought back with free love, while the new generation is using the leveling playing field of science and technology as their primary medium for revolution.

It's all about the power, which makes The Social Network something of a political drama. In Western society, money equals power and it's the split-second change of status (Facebook and societal) that makes this story so compelling. Budding Internet pioneers will associate with the evolution of online ideas, the partnerships involved in exploiting these innovations and the pay off when they actually work. The Social Network is more about the power plays, which have been realistically drafted into this edgy script from Aaron Sorkin. The Social Network screenwriter has a passion for relational politics and courtroom muscling, which is probably why his filmography includes: A Few Good Men, The American President, Charlie Wilson's War and The West Wing.

Sorkin's smart, dry and whimsical script is what holds this weighty drama together. The writing is dense, almost warranting that you watch The Social Network again on video with subtitles, yet the quick pacing and lush story are laced together by intuitive direction with fine performances from the next generation of Hollywood stars. Andrew Garfield (Boy A) is quickly racking up a filmography most seasoned actors would die for and deservedly so, starring as Zuckerberg's silent partner, Eduardo Saverin. Justin Timberlake whisks in quite late in the game to deliver a heavyweight supporting performance as Napster's smooth-talking shark, Sean Parker. The performances are what give The Social Network clout in a very business sense, leaving little room for heart in this heady mix of ego and power trips.

Overall, it's a clinical execution drawing together all the strands with fine storytelling, a great dramatic premise, intelligent writing and sensitive direction, delivered by a new wave ensemble of up-and-coming stars. The quality of The Social Network as a unit are what make the film so enjoyable as a drama amid the clutter of 3D technology. It's a universal tale about society and humanity, which makes it a little sad that the film strayed away from any real sense of connectedness. You care for the characters as much as some of your online friends on Facebook.

The bottom line: Gripping.

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