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The Social Network
Once again, a film that had me at the trailer – as brilliantly edited and soundtracked as the actual movie turned out to be. This rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” performed by the Vega choir’s haunting young voices establishes such pathos for the social trauma of college life – at Harvard University in particular – with its cliques and clubs and the desperation to fit in. Mark Zuckerberg is a sartorially-challenged computer geek who just wants what anyone in college wants: to meet girls, and to create something significant. It’s hilarious that the trigger for his ultimate brilliance is being dumped by a girl far more emotionally intelligent than he is, which sends him on a drunken programming all-nighter as he blogs pejoratively about his recent ex and comes up with facemash.com – the ultimate revenge against all womankind that invites fellow students to rate the attractiveness of the girls in their class. Having caused mayhem with the university IT system, alienated the female population and gained notoriety with the administrative board among others, Mark embarks on the creation of what is today the most significant, worldwide social networking system of our time.
Some people worried that a movie about Facebook might be boring, or worse, just lame. After all, it’s not easy to translate something which is ostensibly about sitting at your computer for hours, in lieu of getting a life, into a cinematic experience. The success of the film is in fact manifold. We have a fast-paced script written by Aaron Sorkin (with all the spice and wit of “The West Wing”) which the actors deliver with aplomb. There are excellent central performances from Jesse Eisenberg (extending his geek-boy repertoire from the wonderful Squid and the Whale and Zombieland), the newly appreciated Andrew Garfield, and even popstar Justin Timberlake (relishing his role as Sean Parker, creator of Napster). Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails provides a blistering soundtrack. And of course, hats off to David Fincher for once again creating a yellow-tinted masterpiece of social commentary (a la Fight Club), dramatic intrigue (as in Se7en), giving us a fictionalised account of a true story (like Zodiac) and performing CGI marvels with face-mashes of his own by producing a convincing pair of identical twins from one guy (after his experience on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).
The film weaves between two strands of narrative: Zuckerberg’s court cases as he is sued for millions after Facebook takes off, and the backstory of how it all came to pass – and it’s a compelling account of how something that is common (and indispensable!) to so many of us came into being. There are particular delights in seeing the conception of various aspects of the site, such as the Relationship Status and creation of the Wall. The Harvard frat parties almost make one yearn for one’s university days (not that my experience bore any resemblance). But at heart this is a human interest drama – ironically revolving around a central character who seldom seems human at all.
The real Mark Zuckerberg apparently thought it was “cool” that Jesse Eisenberg was playing him in the film, which may be taken as something of an endorsement. But regardless of how much of the story is true, or whose performance might be written off as caricature, The Social Network is a total blast. Just imagine if everyone whose heart got broken produced a $25 billion business as a result…