Sean K. Cureton

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Citizen Zuckerberg

In Movie Reviews: 2010 on October 12, 2010 at 7:41 pm

The Social Network

Directed by David Fincher

3 ½ out of 4 stars


After the not so great release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008, David Fincher has since left a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth of this reviewer. It would have seemed as though Mr. Fincher, the critically acclaimed director of such films as Fight Club (1999) and Seven (1995) had moved away from directing films with socking and controversial topics to directing films with a more wholesome and realistic quality. While this may have been perfectly fine for some directors, the fact that Fincher’s first films were so shocking made one come to expect the same amount of shock value from all of his films. But as Button clearly shows, Fincher is interested in making films that are centered in a more recognizable universe as well, no matter how much one may have loved the gritty surrealism of Fight Club.

However, with the fall release of his new film The Social Network, Fincher has offered a world that is an almost mirror image of our own, while still retaining a lot of the edginess that has come to define a great majority of his work. The new film is based on a book called The Accidental Billionaires written by Ben Merich, and like the book, tells the story of the founding of Facebook, the billion dollar online social network, which was created in large part by Mark Zuckerberg.

The film is centered around two depositions being held against Zuckerberg, played superbly in the film by Jesse Eisenberg, over ownership rights to the Facebook franchise. The first deposition is being raised by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, both played by Armie Hammer, who claim that Facebook was a stolen idea based on their planned social network which they had hired Zuckerberg to create for them. The second deposition is raised by Zuckerberg’s only friend in the film, Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield. The bulk of the film’s narrative is told in the form of flashbacks that are triggered by questions asked in the two depositions.

Much of the film seems to echo the themes and plot structure of Orson Welles’ 1941 classic Citizen Kane. The story of a brilliant man who comes into a position of great wealth, power, and popularity can be applied to both Kane and Fincher’s Zuckerberg, and the structure of telling such a story primarily in flashbacks is a founding pillar in both films.

But the comparison that can be made between this film and Welles’ classic is not the only thing that makes this film great. While being a superbly directed film about a tragic fall from grace, this film also provides one of the first real examinations of the Facebook generation in film. The fact that Zuckerberg is portrayed as being such a social recluse who is often awkward in real life, but finds relief in recreating his image on the internet through blogging and the eventual creation of his billion dollar online enterprise seems to mirror a lot of today’s youth.

Beyond that, this film boasts some of the best filmed shots and sequences of this year, as well as one of the best screenplays. The acting performances are also all superb, from Eisenberg and Garfield, down to the smaller roles, such as Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Zuckerberg’s spurned girlfriend Erica Albright, and even Justin Timberlake’s slimy performance as Sean Parker.

With the release of 2010’s The Social Network, director David Fincher has proved that he can make films that are based in the real world while retaining the same edge that he has always possessed.