Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Social Network Review

The film is filled with so many memorable and perfectly crafted moments that it's easy to forget about that opening scene. Just a conversation between a young couple sitting in the middle of a bar, and the first time you watch the movie it takes a second to realize that the dialogue is going to fly at you frenetically, an Aaron Sorkin script that doesn't slow down for the viewer but instead demands that you keep up. It's in this first sequence that astonishingly the character of Mark Zuckerberg is fleshed out. We see his arrogance, his social awkwardness. We hear the words spill out of his mouth that would inevitably lead to the downfall of his relationship, and even though he can't stop himself you can feel the split second regret for the cruel way he demeans her. 

The ambient sound in this scene has a disorienting effect when trying to follow the dialogue, but it is ingeniously mixed. The clicking of beer bottles and the many surrounding voices all blend together into a jarring hum of normalcy and because of this the scene feel so real, like we are there at the next table watching a date crumble into pieces. It's equal parts uncomfortable and intoxicating. 

"You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole."

Prior to the film even being released, the whole world knew exactly who Mark Zuckerberg was. Facebook had accumulated hundreds of millions of users and the man behind it all was vastly wealthy, yet in this moment there is no second guessing Erica Albright when we can see it in her eyes, the realization that she can not and should not spend another minute dealing with his bullshit. There is something so satisfying when that final word hits: asshole. It lands emphatically and strikes a chord with Mark, a single word that knocks over the first domino of the entire story to follow. 

It's only a few minutes at the very start of the film, yet it is the most critically important scene in The Social Network. When he should have been focusing on his goal of being punched by the Phoenix Club, instead he was at home blogging about the breakup and quickly creating a crude, cruel and sexist website that would crash the Harvard network and hurt a large amount of the female portion of the student body emotionally. As if there was any doubt regarding what Erica Albright said, it is impossible to deny now: Mark Zuckerberg is an asshole. Yet all the pain and vitriol derived from a few hours on a Tuesday night paved the way to the groundbreaking, generation defining social network that this many years later is still a go to form of communication for people from around the world. 

I recall when The Social Network was first being released many were voicing their dissent over how boring a "movie about Facebook" would be, and that label still resonates a bit today when I bring this masterpiece up with someone who is still yet to see it. They ask if that is "the Facebook movie" and I answer with, yes and no. Facebook is obviously central to the storytelling, but in reality this is a film about relationships, loyalty, greed, and betrayal. A film centered around a website that devalues the word friend and builds an artificial feeling of self worth based around how many acquaintances one can gather onto a list. The Social Network takes an essential and engrossing screenplay from Sorkin and then morphs into something truly masterful thanks to David Fincher, one of the finest directors working in cinema today. It is his artistic vision and attention to detail that elevates greatness into perfection. 

Before The Social Network, I had no idea who Rooney Mara was. Her role here is brief but if you watch closely, her talent is very much on display and it has since blossomed into amazing work and two Oscar nominations. She stole the show as Lisbeth Salander in Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and was gorgeous in every conceivable way in Carol, yet I will always remember her most for Erica Albright and the way she says that word. That one word that blazed a trail of innovation, deception, heartbreak and litigation. The word that changed the world.




  1. Cool, this is on my to watch list, but I fear I'll never get around to it anytime soon.

    1. Wow, haven't seen it yet Cody? Surprised, it's just such a great film. If you do get a chance, let me know what you think.

    2. I know, the only reason I'm interested in watching it is because of the director. I initially avoided it because I'm very anti-facebook

    3. Yeah, first don't be fooled, this may be "about" Facebook but really it isn't, and funny enough you may appreciate it more being anti-Facebook. It doesn't paint Zuckerberg and what happened behind the scenes of the site becoming a cultural phenomenon in a pretty way.