The Social Network covers the birth of Facebook, but it is also a study in modern culture as defined by the cultural-changing explosion of the internet.
From every angle, The Social Network has Oscar written all over it. Written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, the dialogue comes at the audience like machine gun bullets. Immediately it becomes clear from the opening scene that the viewer needs to be ready to truly listen to the action onscreen. The Sorkin verbal rollercoaster is priceless. And in a story as complex as The Social Network, his prose is patently perfect.
Also, in the hands of director David Fincher, Sorkin's vision of the founding of Facebook and its collective aftermath is told by a man who made the almost-three-hour The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seem like a blip on the time pendulum.
Jessie Eisenberg portrays Mark Zuckerberg and we meet the Harvard student early in his Ivy League career. After the aforementioned opening scene conversation, Zuckerberg is compelled to use the socially expelled mojo of those first moments to simultaneously alienate and bring the world together.
Eisenberg lights up the screen with each frame. His terse portrayal of Zuckerberg is the stuff of legend. Yes it's true, we don't get to know Zuckerberg the man. There is little there in The Social Network to fill in the blanks beyond the headlines. But, by telling the story from all three sides of Facebook's founding, Fincher and Sorkin have crafted a movie masterpiece for the ages.
The supporting cast in The Social Network is also top notch. Astonishing in the role as the Winklevoss twins, Armie Hammer portrays both twins with a Harvard fierceness that is blinding in brilliance. The culture of Harvard men in particular is painted masterfully and without prejudice.
Although he may be a headline-grabber himself for securing the role of Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield's nuanced performance as Zuckerberg's college best friend, Facebook co-founder and lawsuit plaintiff Eduardo Saverin, continues the UK actor's intensely powerful roles of late including his turn in the astonishing Never Let Me Go.
Then, there is Justin Timberlake. The man has been honing his acting skills, and it shows. The promise Timberlake showed in Alpha Dog is on full display in his portrayal of Napster founder Matt Parker. Timberlake's Parker, an outlandish dreamer who is also slightly troubled, falls in the grey area when it comes to film protagonists. Therein lays the luster in Timberlake's performance. His casting is spot-on.
Whether to join The Social Network or not, is hardly a question. The film should sail to the top of your fall movie friends to accept and explore.
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