Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Social Network (2010)

“Your best friend is suing you for $600 million dollars…”

Like everyone else, I’m trapped on Facebook. It’s socially impossible not to be on there- I’d miss out on everything- but the whole thing is a constant battle to defend my privacy against that bastard Mark Zuckerberg. All of us users of Facebook need to realise that it is not we who are the customers, but the entities that pay for access to all of our personal private stuff. And this film, scripted by the great Aaron Sorkin, purports to show how it all started.

I say “purports” not to diss this excellent film  but to recognise that it’s a fictionalised version of real events, a very different animal to an actual depiction of real events. This film isn’t the absolute “truth” and doesn’t make any such claim; how could it? The broad details of how Facebook came to be are known, but the finer details are murky, shrouded in legalistic fog, and highly disputed. Sorkin, quite rightly, has to a large extent decided to print the legend.

This film is superb. The script, as one would suspect, is excellent: a non-linear narrative, with scenes framed by later court scenes in which facts are disputed, and with all of Sorkin’s trademark wit. The soundtrack, too, is excellent, as one would expect from the great Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. But the film rest on three superb performances from Jesse Eisenberg as the insufferable genius himself, flanked by Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake (yes, Justin Timberlake) as the rogueish, washed-up founder of Napster.

It’s tempting to wonder how close the real Mark Zuckerberg is to the highly annoying, focussed, borderline Aspergers business genius depicted here; it’s tempting to conclude “quite a lot”, but the real Zuckerberg is a mysterious figure. Rather hypocritically, he guards his privacy jealously. Interestingly, the film presents him unsympathetically part of the time, but also allows him to be sympathetic at times; as viewers, we’re rooting for him against those insufferable Winklevoss brothers.

The film ends, in a scene shot in the real Facebook offices, with Zuckerberg symbolically alone in front of a screen. He’s wealthy, successful, but in contrast to the free-spirited Sean Parker he seems unable to enjoy the fruits of his success. Doesn’t your heart bleed for the poor billionaire?

I enjoyed this film hugely. If you’re a fan of Sorkin, witty dialogue, or good writing, or also trapped on Facebook, then so will you.

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