Film Review: The Social Network

Even to the most ardent Facebook fan the premise of this film doesn’t sound enthralling; a movie about the founding of the social networking site. Don’t let this put you off, however, as The Social Network is a wholly entertaining and surprisingly funny film.

On the 2003 night that his girlfriend breaks up with him, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg begins to work an idea that will revolutionise online communication. As the success of his idea grows, however, so do the problems in both his personal and professional life…

Director David Fincher does an excellent job of generating such an interesting film out of what looks on paper to be a fairly simple chain of events. The Social Network concentrates on the human side of the story, developing characters that appear natural and multi-demensional. Nevertheless, the film does not shy away from presenting details of the court cases, as well as detailing the way in which Zuckerberg creates the site that will lead on to Facebook.

Rather than focussing solely on Zuckerberg, The Social Network gives sufficient attention to the various others involved with the creation of the site. This is an important factor as the film depicts real people and court cases, which occured very recently. Thus, the filmmakers offer a view of proceedings from the various people involved, rather than siding with a particular character’s account of events. The result is a film that tells an engaging story, but avoids placing blame or praise too much on any of the characters.

Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is excellent. The Social Network is peppered with wit throughout, particularly from Zuckerberg’s character. Mark Zuckerberg is a protagonist to both sympathise with and be irritated by, the film suggests. Sean Parker comes across as obnoxious but entertaining, whilst Eduardo Saverin is the most relatable of the bunch. It is hard not to empathise with Saverin as he experiences the company slipping away from him.

Jesse Eisenberg perfectly embodies the Zuckerberg character. Eisenberg masters the awkwardness of the character, whilst delivering his lines with precision. Andrew Garfield gives a solid performance as Saverin; in the later scenes particularly, his anguish appears genuine and affecting. Justin Timberlake is good as the brash Parker, though the performance doesn’t seem too much of a stretch from the entertainer’s natural personality.

The visuals have a polished quality to them. With the use of lighting and colour, the atmosphere of Harvard contrasts greatly with the California scenes. There is a darkness to The Social Network that adds a weight to the action. This is aided by the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which is notable without becoming overbearing.

In its account of true events, The Social Network offers a compelling story that does not lose sight of the humanity of its protagonists.