A splendid film centred on the genesis of the social networking platform that ate the world – Facebook – David Fincher’s The Social Network mixes startling fact with ridiculously entertaining fiction for a frequently intense, dramatic, amusing and ultimately deeply satisfying film that rightfully merits the rapidly increasing Academy Award buzz.
Jesse Eisenberg, who is known for his sweet-natured and earnest turns in such quirky, offbeat film projects as Adventureland, Zombieland and The Squid and The Whale is a marvel as Mark Zuckerberg, the aggressive, albeit brilliant, “toddler CEO”, who establishes Facebook but soon finds himself embroiled in a legal tussle with former friends who accuse him of betrayal and ripping off their idea for selfish profit.
Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is impeccably meticulous at the helm of the film, and he is so very good with his actors that he elicits super-strong, convincing performances from the cast, notably Eisenberg (who disappears into the role) and Andrew Garfield (reportedly the next Spider Man), who is remarkable as Zuckerberg’s supportive, loyal best friend Eduardo Saverin, who later suffers the ultimate betrayal.
For my money, Garfield stands a better shot at a supporting actor Oscar nod over Justin Timberlake, who gives a good account as Napster founder Sean Parker, but isn’t as particularly compelling as some viewers are making him out to be. He was far more noteworthy in 2006’s Alpha Dog.
It was simply a brilliant idea to do a film that not only shows audiences how Facebook came about but smartly explores how greed and ruthless ambition can fracture friendships and foster enmity. And as the film’s clever tagline offers, “You don’t get to 500 million friends, without making a few enemies.” A gross understatement if you ask me.
Rounding out the main cast, meanwhile, are Armie Hammer, who ably portrays the hunky Winklevoss twins, and Rooney Mara (recently cast as Lisbeth Salander for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), who enjoys a few good scenes as the emotionally wounded Erica Albright.
While I particularly enjoy Fincher’s effective flashback technique, there are moments that do not soar as effortlessly as others, especially as the film progresses deeper into its second half. Perhaps the director’s deliberate pacing is partly the culprit. As it is, however, what The Social Network has going for it is a solid screenplay from The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin, Fincher’s zeal and skill as a filmmaker, and a young, energetic cast that stops short of burning a hole in the screen.