The Social Network

Seeing David Fincher’s name attached as director of The Social Network initially appears perplexing.  Known for producing works exploring the darkest facets of human nature, its story of a computer billionaire sounds less than riveting.  Being the analytical type, he digs under this superficial facade to unearth a tale just as black as his previous endeavours.   His unique perspective brings a hard edge as it underscores the motif of the noblest of intentions having less than stellar beginnings.

In 2003, Harvard college student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) decides to wreak revenge on an ex-girlfriend.  A computer whiz, he designs a website devoted to belittling her throughout the campus.  Becoming a sensation, his efforts attract the attention of others who ask him to create a social interaction site for the college.  Naming it ‘Facebook’, his concept puts him in touch with Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).  Seeing his cyber-space construct become a powerful phenomenon, Mark’s ambitions are sorely tested under the weight of lawsuits, lies and insurmountable egos.

It’s fascinating in the way Fincher shows how a website devoted to forming friendships was born out of the disintegration of others.  Whilst the viewer shouldn’t accept what’s shown at face value – due to it being an over-dramatization of events – the personalities and conflicts shown make for captivating watching.  Most of this is due to a story structure weaving the narrative back and forth in time to reflect the slow demise of the character’s relationships.

Issues of loyalty, greedy opportunism, selfishness and ambition are given intense focus under Fincher’s astute direction.  What he presents is a typical morality tale dressed in hi-tech attire with the irony being the one who creates such an influential communal tool ultimately becomes alone.  Although some characters are drawn too ‘black and white’ to be genuinely realistic, actors such as Eisenberg and Timberlake add spark to what could have been one note roles and convey the arrogance of genius with chilling style.

The Social Network is a bleak film in many ways although it is never less than engrossing.  What the real-life players would think of their lives being portrayed so harshly would be as interesting as this document on how this century’s latest form of social networking was created.

Rating out of 10:  8

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