The Social Network
An astute figure points out that with the right questions asked and a certain degree of emotional testimony, the truth can be easily twisted to paint characters in a less flattering light. Perhaps the best summary of David Fincher’s latest piece, its relationship to the whole truth seems tenuous at best for the majority of the picture.
Following a rather public breakup with girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara), Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) hacks into the Harvard database of female students to create a website to rate them by comparison to one another. With an algorithm provided by best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), the sites popularity crashes the university’s servers, bringing Zuckerberg before the probationary board and also the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer). Hoping that in Mark they have found the programmer they’ve sought after for their exclusive new networking site, Zuckerberg uses their same idea to launch what will become the indomitable Facebook.
Yes key elements remain unchanged such as the technical and general order of events but the very motivation for its inception is left to embellishment along with other issues of structure and presentation.
By transforming the motivation into social acceptance and status, we see both a key motivator of human behaviour but one of its most fickle. Although Geuss states that power must be recognised as an essential element of political power and it can be transposed into every other aspect of life, the scope is altogether too narrow, rendering characters self-serving and largely irredeemable.
The difference between a relatable fault and it’s opposite is something rather subtle in context but not in delivery, isolating them from the audience in a way hard to engage with over the daunting 2 hour running time. Granted an non-archetypal character is often to be admired and certainly makes reviewing a more interesting pastime but only where they pose an interesting question for example about ourselves as individuals, the medium itself or society as a whole; here the crew seems too focused on further mysticising the characters behind a global brand.
Isolation is handled well as a theme, with Zuckerberg cast as the oddity regardless of the situation but as an element of the overall microcosm, it’s pushed too far.
An overall wit born from the script allows a large amount of leeway and for the most part negates any significant issues along with raising subtle nuances (such as the twins inability to understand that fairness does not mean meeting personally with the Dean of Harvard to solve their problems) but the overt nature of the characterisation of each player results in a lack of irony overall.
Eisenberg, Garfield and even Timberlake as a cast turn in a masterful performance as an ensemble cast, delivering each line with as much venom as humanly possible but their inherent structural issues cause enough damage to less the impact of the same. On a purely surface level, these could be career defining moments for each but given the fact no one can escape the need to be made completely fallible, it was hard for me to remember them in a positive light. The production around Hammer in the role of the twins also borders on faultless yet the occasional hazy surround or less than perfect facial CGI in backgrounds renders it obvious to the astute viewer.
Many will argue against what I’ve said, rallying behind a proven writer and director and interesting social examination but the lack of factual certainty, more relatable characters and a too in-depth examination of such overt themes left me wanting more. In spite of everything negative I can outline, the sum is great than it’s parts, leaving an interesting piece worthy of watching at least once. However the overworked development, aiming to cover too much while often adding little new to say will be the defining factor of an otherwise strong film.