The Social Network

The Social Network ★★★★★

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Review In A Nutshell:

Irony. A beautiful product for people to come together and interact, breaking down the boundaries of physical distance, allowing us to learn more about our previous relationships and hopefully build new ones, is the primary cause for the dissolution of a tight friendship. The social networking site has gained fame to such a height that it has eventually become a necessity for many; to update others of their achievements and glory, subconsciously craving for their ego to be fed through a comment or a like. We have all been guilty of it, and there is no way to avoid it because it is addictive; the site changes who we are and eventually a spark would generate which could topple down our relationships. With every idealistic idea, it eventually becomes too large for its own good, and its initial intentions begin to sink underneath the surface of commercialism and prominence. It sounds sad and pessimistic but it is true.

Before Gone Girl and a recent revisit to Fincher's sophomore film, Se7en, I considered The Social Network as the filmmaker's best work. It was released at the perfect time, where the site itself was at its peak; now sadly, it has lost a bit of its flavour. People came to see it as maybe it would bring forth ideas and emotions that are easily identifiable and empathetic, which it does, but what they are actually in for was something much more. Aaron Sorkin, the film's screenwriter, and director David Fincher have told a far more ambitious biography story; one that does not tread the obvious steps of its peers and at the same time capture that particular mood and tone that radiates from the site perfectly, that sense of cool and sophistication that many are able to identify with the product and would expect from the engineers and architect that built it. A sense of style that leaves a subtle imprint in our minds, an attraction to the film and its characters that we simply cannot draw away from. They have taken a large and legally complicated story and displayed in such a fashion that is within commercially consumable level.

The Social Network begins in a wonderful Sorkin fashion, dialogue bouncing left and right between protagonist Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend, Erica Albright. The film doesn't spend time before hand to lay the groundwork for its characters; Sorkin's dialogue is so precise and filled with personality that the characters are being established as they speak along. So much words are coming at once, especially from Zuckerberg's end, that everything is not taken in during the first run through; I have gone through this film a number of times and there are still some elements of their conversation that have breezed past me, but it becomes easier to comprehend with each revisit; and I am now speaking beyond the initial scene of the film. During this conversation, we learn that Zuckerberg has an incredible ego hidden underneath his words, utilising a defence mechanism through intellectual sarcasm, which he personally thinks is endearing and witty. The conversation between them starts with a positive atmosphere, and we can see as it treads along, the tone starts to become dire as quick and subtle jabs begin to take form, which Erica does not let slide. She confronts him about his egotistic and commanding attitude, and through retaliation, he fights back with harsher words hidden underneath his attempt to reconcile. It ends with a relationship broken.

This tragic loss has not only broken his heart but also hurt is ego, his masculinity bruised by a woman's words. On his surface what is evident is sadness, but as he travels back to his dorm room, an emotion of anger builds underneath; excellently underscored by composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that capture his layers of emotion perfectly. In his return, he continues to drink alcohol, and decides to use his anger to inflict pain back to all the women in campus by creating a website that lets users vote on which of the two female options is more attractive; morality is the least of his concerns during this state. At the same time as he was developing this, he blogs about his night and the feelings he is currently going through; this alerts his best friend Eduardo Saverin intending to be there with him to provide emotional support. Zuckerberg asks Saverin for an algorithm that would allow his website to run its program, Saverin initially reluctant but gives it to him as he is a loyal and faithful friend. The invitation to use the program has been sent to other members on campus, and then it begins.

The whole idea backfired, which led to all women on campus now hating him; a position he never wanted to be in the first place, yet he cannot help but feel proud of his actions. Every single moment of the film, the character is subtly expresses himself or Fincher is shining a light on the character; it is through this approach that I was left engaged constantly throughout. Mark Zuckerberg is flawed, there is no doubt about that, and the film does not build a generic arc that would leave audiences predicting his journey before it even reaches the second act. Fincher lets his audiences be concerned with the moment rather than think about what is ahead; to examine the underlying tension that is building between Zuckerberg and Saverin, which eventually leads to an emotionally explosive conclusion that still moves me every time I see it. The film overall is a portrait of a man's obsession to be accepted and forgiven, but it all does not matter since the one person that hasn't given him the forgiveness that he deeply desires.

I apologise for this review not being up to par with my best as I have completely lost the drive to completely dissect the film; I have seen and reviewed the film on this site thrice now, and I can only say so much without repeating myself and becoming over-indulgent, which this review certainly is. I am just going to wrap this up and say that this is Fincher at the top of his game, creating a masterpiece that is unlike anything that he has ever created before; a film that pours out an atmosphere of youth and coolness that provides a distinctive and powerful experience; channeled through Jeff Cronenweth's moody photography and the performances from its cast, especially Andrew Garfield, who dominated in every shot. The film is as relevant today as it was released nearly five years ago.

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