Movie Review: The Social Network

“You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying so hard to be one.” This statement, uttered by a lawyer, played by Rashida Jones, describes David Fincher’s The Social Network quite well. It is not a great film, but it is trying very hard to be one. That being said, it is certainly a good one. When it was announced, people reacted to the idea of a film about Facebook similarly to a Transformers film being made. For the most part , all the write-ups about the film were filled with cynicism and negativity. To people’s surprise Aaron Sorkin would write and David Fincher would direct. Following its premiere, mountains of praise were heaped on the film, which for the most part was deserved.

To me, this film is hard to review. On the surface, there is much to praise. Fantastic performances, great cinematography and direction, with some great writing, yet, I come out of feeling nothing. There was an emotional disconnect between the film and me – something was lacking. The film is exceptionally well made, it has great style, and Fincher deserves a lot of credit for what he has done. However, the problem I had was I didn’t care about the characters. Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is not meant to be a hero, in fact he is portrayed as a prick. Someone constantly condescending due to his insecurity and superior intellect. We are not given any characters that we can attach ourselves to, which isn’t always a problem but the story was told in such a way that it didn’t suck me in either.

The performances are great across the board, and most surprisingly, the stand out for me is Justin Timberlake, who disappears into his role. He plays Napster creator Sean Parker as a slightly delusional, paranoid entrepreneur.

Aaron Sorkin, like David Mamet or Quentin Tarantino, has a very stylized way of writing dialogue. It either works for you, or doesn’t. Fortunately, it did work and some very enjoyable exchanges are present in this film. The problem isn’t with the dialogue, but with the way the story is told, constantly cutting forward in time to his meetings with his lawyers and the people suing him. This gives the film an almost procedural feel, and leaves me cold.

Fincher has made some very good films, but never has he made a truly great one. They never emotionally connect, and I blame this on his style. The film is beautifully shot, but it is the way it is shot that I had the most problem with. It is too clean, too composed. It is style versus emotion, and style wins out. It is quite obvious he started his career as a commercial and music video director in this film. This is certainly not always a bad thing, but on this film, which needs us to connect with at least one of the characters, the lack of emotion keeps me from really loving this film.

I will say that the final scene almost made up for it, it is humorous yet strangely disturbing. Unfortunately, the ending came out of nowhere. There was no build up, it appears as if several scenes were cut leading up to the ending. It, instead, uses text during the final shot to clear up all of the loose ends, which there are many. The film doesn’t care about its characters, and this proves it.

It may come off strange that I will still recommend the film, but I do. It is very good, and interesting. Certainly better than most of the films released in the last couple of months. That being said, it has flaws, significant ones, and for that it fails as a great film, but succeeds as a good one.

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11 Responses to Movie Review: The Social Network

  1. Delpheno says:

    Justin Timberlake plays the role of Sean Parker.

  2. evenstephen200 says:

    –> Fincher has made some very good films, but never has he made a truly great one.

    I am sorry that your intellect does not allow you to appreciate Fincher’s Fight Club, or Seven. These films never wanted you to attach yourself to the protagonist. These films are meant to enlighten, to change people’s life forever. You can downgrade a movie, but do not stretch your imagination to take outrageous shots at director.

    • I am sorry you disagree, but this is my opinion. I really liked Zodiac, I just found there to be problems with it. A great film must leave me feeling something, his films haven’t yet.

      • evenstephen200 says:

        and it must be his fault when you subjectively equate great film to “your” feeling, ridiculously arrogant of you. Sure, his films touched countless people’s “feeling” except you, therefore it is not a great film. If Oscar awarding winning film does not let you “feel something,” then it is not a great film, by your definition. LOL, why hasn’t your childish logic stop you from writing embarrassingly flawed review? Do you have no shame?

      • Again it comes down to your own opinion as I cannot force myself to feel a certain way about Fincher’s films. I understand what you are saying, but everyone is allowed their own opinion. I cannot write a review objectively, and I wouldn’t want to either. My reviews are based solely on what I personally think about a film, if you don’t like the way I review that is fine, but to attack me for not liking a director is different.

  3. Greg Hilton says:

    To say that the likes of The Game, Se7en, or Fight Club do not “emotionally connect” with the viewer is a very wrong-footed opinion. I think if you cannot recognise or feel this connection with any of his movies then you have not been paying attention. Or, since it sounds like you have something against Fincher, you might just be trying to hard to dislike his movies. Perhaps, if that’s the case, you shouldn’t be reviewing them, or even seeing them. Since you seem to be saying that the movie is excellent all-round despite the emotional disconnect, I’ll take that to mean that the movie is excellent all-round. (full stop)

    • I certainly don’t have anything against Fincher. I went into Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac, and The Social Network with a completely open mind. I loved Zodiac and really liked the two others. Benjamin Button was a lost opportunity in my opinion, what should have felt truly tragic fell a little short, again emotionally. He is a very talented director, and I am sorry to offend anyone by saying his films don’t emotionally connect, but they just don’t, to me.

      • Greg Hilton says:

        I haven’t seen Zodiac so I can’t really pass judgement but Benjamin Button I agree with you on actually, it did fall short emotionally. It was a long film and the style of it only seemed to work on some levels. I’ve just been to see The Social Network and I actually understand what you said about the emotional disconnect; however, despite it being a movie that explores themes of social interaction and humanity, the lack of character emotion portrayed in the movie isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The film does have, as you say, a ‘procedural feel’ to it. I think part of what makes the film good as a piece of storytelling is the same reason it cannot work as well emotionally. The audience is led through a mostly factual account of the ‘accidental billionaires’, and it is also what I hoped to get out of the social network movie. By allowing the audience to stay separate from the characters of the film, a more objective and less unbiased view of can be made. Perhaps we aren’t to care for certain characters so that we are not expected to take sides. The film plays on the reality of the story as a whole to induce emotion, rather than to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual characters whom, individually, are only partial to the entire ‘social network’.

        PS: If you haven’t seen ‘The Game’ you should!

  4. petersellers says:

    I agree with you on this review..I would even be more harsh than you..
    When I first read all the reviews and critics of this movie, I thought that it would be the best David Fincher film since “Seven”..and yes I’ve seen all of his films and yes I know “Fight Club” was made after “Seven”…
    But..I was disappointed after I left the theatre.First of all I didn’t like Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay..Fincher-Sorki conncetion never worked for me..How can I enjoy the film when 200 words are spoken in one minute??
    Secondly I never cared about the characters like you said..Everyone in this film is a prick and I didn’t care for any of them.
    Some scenes were so unnecessary.Like all the scenes with two Winklevoss twins..
    Acting was good besides Justin Timberlake(come on….!) and the guy that plays Winklevoss twins..
    Andrew Garfield was great as Eduardo Saverin..
    Great cinematography and great music too..
    When it comes to end I think the film was good but not in any point masterpiece like many of the critics wrote.
    Fincher made far better movies in his career.He’s one of the directors I will always adimre for making one of the best films in last 30 years which was “Seven”.
    The characters in that movie were larger than life..
    And in this one??You tell me……

  5. I watched The Social Network lastnight and the first thing I really have to say about this movie is that I don’t believe that there has ever been a movie that has been more over hyped than The Social Network has been. Read More: http://www.shawnmichaeladamsonline.com/2011/03/social-network-apache-servers-and-my.html

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