It’s hard to overestimate the effect that Facebook has had on my generation. It’s not just a part of our days, it’s a part of our lives. Sometimes late at night, I stay up and ask myself, “How did people communicate without wall posts and pokes?” (I assume a combination of carrier pigeons and smoke signals, but I’m not sure. Ask Carrot.)
So if there’s any story that could be the stuff of legend to people my age, it might be the one behind The Social Network, based on the book based on the real events that went down behind the creation of Facebook. Luke Skywalker might have blown up the Death Star, but these guys created something I spend (way too much) time with everyday. The only question is, can the execution of the story justify its monumental effect on my life?
Considering the movie is directed by David Fincher, that’s kind of stupid question. Fincher, who’s never made a bad movie (hur. . .) might be not have made anything so soapy before, but his supreme abilities at creating tension are put to good use in the behind the scenes of the creation of what is, arguably, the most important website.
We meet househould name Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) as a Harvard undergrad, smackdab in the middle of a fairly awful date. It gets him dumped, and he responds by going home to blog and code a site that lets his peers rank Harvard coeds by they’re hotness. It’s the beginnings of what would go on to be the website we all have profiles on, but at the time all it does is get Mark in trouble with his school.
What’s ironic, as the the posters have pointed out, is that in the creation of the website that has brought together friends from all around the world ended up destroying the most important friendship to Zuckerberg. This isn’t giving away anything – flash-forwards in the first act establish there’s a rift between the two – but the tension never dies. Fincher is the kind of director who can make carpet-cleaning exciting; and accordingly, there’s never a dull moment in The Social Network.
As much as Fincher is able to create suspense in this dark character drama, the movie is made by one supremely bright young cast. Eisenberg is the standout, mastering nervous, long rambling statements his character launches through without a hitch. Without ever having to draw attention to himself, Eisenberg just retreats into insecurity and rest of the work does itself. It’s getting more and more difficult to refer to him as Michael Cera clone, even if we’ve always known Eisenberg to be the more adventurous and affective of that duo.
One shouldn’t concentrate on Eisenberg, though, because the supporting cast almost just as good. Andrew Garfield, the next Spider-Man, can be charming just by standing up; and Armie Hammer, playing both of two identical twins that could be idealized and perfect versions of Zack Morris, just may have affected my sexual orientation. And Justin Timberlake, who has shown surprising acting chops whenever he feels like it, keeps it up as Napster creator Shawn Parker. Really though, everyone here is at the top of their game.
A lot of credit belongs to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who scored the film. Reznor, who you may know better by his moniker Nine Inch Nails, and Ross turn in a creeping digital soundtrack that would have been appropriate for Something Wicked This Way Comes, and in The Social Network it adds an abnormal feeling that adds an epic scope to this story of legal litigation and late night dorm room conversations.
As a teenage soap opera, The Social Network could easily have felt like a bad MTV docudrama. But it feels like more, it feels just as big as Facebook, but without the stupid drama of young adults. Here, friendships lost and friendships gained feel like our generation’s mythos.