A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Movie Review: The Social Network

I had been so uneasy about going into this film because there was SO MUCH HYPE. I didn't see it for forever (obviously, since I am just now writing my review) specifically because of all the over-stated, ultra-hyped comments I had heard about it. I knew there was NO WAY it could live up to all of that. Thankfully, a friend of mine who usually has the same taste and reactions to films as me saw it and said she was unimpressed. I was relieved, honestly. That made me feel like I could go into it with lower expectations and no pressure for me or the film.

Turns out the hype and/or my low expectations were irrelevant. The movie is intoxicating in a way I cannot explain, and I loved it. In fact, I saw it for the first time last Saturday, bought it on Tuesday and watched it again, and now I am watching it again (a night later) with cast commentary. Fantastic.

The opening scene of this movie is really great. Immediately I was impressed with the script. Writing for a cast of characters that are mostly ALL geniuses has to be incredibly difficult, and they did it amazingly well. Through the conversation with his girlfriend, so much about Mark is revealed. We see his lack of social skills, how incredibly smart he is and how it gets in the way of normal conversation, and then the fact that he can’t help but be pretentious and awful. We also see his need to feel accepted yet elevated to those around him. Then when the conversation ends with him pissing off whomever he's talking with, we see on his face that he’s frustrated and bitter, as though that seems to happen to him a lot. All of this we learn within the first 2 minutes.

From there we are driven into Mark Zuckerberg's quick rise to creator of Facebook. A few people have said that this movie is kind of cold, but I felt very connected to the human side of this story, and I think it had a lot to do with the subtle performances by this young, up-and-coming cast. Jesse Eisenberg isn't just playing a douche-bag. There is much more to him than that. As we saw in just the first scene, there are lots of factors at play here. Andrew Garfield stretches his acting legs, as well. He had perhaps the most endearing part to play and does it with charisma and a vulnerability that is so genuine, I felt it in my chest. Even with a script that is very event-driven, and technically-driven, these character anchor it. At least that is what anchored it for me.

People tend to feel like the Mark character is just the worst. However, I have a different perspective. JT comes in as Sean Parker, the creator of Napster, and we see Mark's face light up at seeing what life is like for the people allowed into the "exclusive" clubs. Pursuing this relationship was ultimately what caused him to screw over his only friend, Eduardo. Blinded by perhaps achieving the exclusive life he's always wanted, Mark allows Parker to be his mentor. Parker manipulated Mark into allowing him to have a piece of Facebook. Eduardo is left to tag along, is lied to, and eventually is dropped from the project. Parker says the first time he sits down to talk to Mark and Wardo, "I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm just a fan who stopped to say hi," but that is obviously not true. He saw potential to get something out of it for himself, and he jumped at it. He is the most despicable character in the movie, in my opinion.

As far as Jesse's portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, it's been said that it was an easy thing to do, that he was basically just playing a jerk. Plus, the character does things that are so unlikable, the easiest thing to do is to write him off as nothing more than a jerk. However,  I disagree. Jesse studied up and really dug deep for this role. The fact is, Mark hides all of his emotions under the surface. Anything Jesse shows has to be through layers and layers, which is something that is very hard to do, and yet he does it. It's very subtle, but it's absolutely there. The best summary quote for Mark as a character is "You're not an asshole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be." Underneath the superiority, the bitterness, the brilliance, and the apathetic exterior are real emotions, and to be able to show that only after you have layered on all the rest takes true talent. Jesse is a real actor, and hopefully this role (and an Oscar nom) will break him of the "Michael-Cera-clone" stigma that exist. He certainly deserves better.

Andrew Garfield, for me, was the best part of this movie. He's so lovable the entire time, you can't help but want good things to come true for him. He's the nicest of guys and he makes it very easy for the audience to be enraged that, of all the guys in the world, he gets screwed over by his best friend. Throughout the movie, Andrew plays Eduardo as such a sweet guy who always wants to do the right thing, always wants to be there if he's needed, and who sincerely loves his best friend. Which makes it that much harder to know he's being used and manipulated. But also, the fact that he is so (I'll say it) precious the whole movie makes it that much more awesome when he explodes at Mark and Parker at the end. Without contest, that is my favorite scene of the entire movie, especially the line "I love standing next to you, Sean. Makes me look so tough." If there was any question for award voters that this kid deserves nominations, I bet that was the scene that tipped the scale in his favor.

See this movie. If for no other reason except you know that you'll have to in order to follow the rest of this awards season. Yes there is hype, yes it's ridiculous, yes it's because the movie is actually good. Check it out and see for yourself. I am immeasurably glad that I did, even though I didn't want to, at first. WORTH IT.


  1. TOTALLY Agree! Loooooved this movie. Saw it before much hype...
    JT reminds me of a lot of people in Cali. Although he is despicable
    (and he IS),he was the one who helped launched FB into another level. Who
    knows if he wasn't involved? We might not be writing on it this very
    minute..and it brings pleasure to a lot of people

  2. I hope you're right about the Michael Cera-clone BS...Jesse is a much better actor than Cera, no contest.

    I liked this movie a lot better the second time around, I think probably because, like you, the first time I saw it, I was expecting it to live up to the hype. I hate hype. :)

  3. So glad you came to your senses and finally saw the film :) It truly is extraordinary on every level. I've been a David Fincher fan since Se7en blew my mind years ago, and to this day that's my favorite David Fincher film. But the guy just really knows how to create an intoxicating (to steal your word), and wholly enveloping cinematic experience that hooks you from the very beginning and doesn't let you go. You never know what path he's going to take you down, and no matter how dark and bleak it is, you want to go there with him. Benjamin Button was his warmest film, but I would argue this is his most accessible. Which is not a bad thing in any way. Aaron Sorkin's script is easily the best piece of writing this year, and in Jesse Eisenberg, he's found the perfect actor to speak his language. As I stated before in my top ten list, the fact that Fincher filmed the entire thing on memory cards, no tape, no film, nothing else, is mind-blowing. Brave new world of filmmaking. Can't wait to see The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo this year!

  4. Hmmm. Interesting. I get what your talking about. I enjoy the way you see movies. I usually sit around waiting for some kind of plot event to sweep me away. I guess I enjoy movies where my heart and emotions can get lost in the story, and for this movie, I couldn't find much to identify with for myself. I'm so not technically savvy, nor am I accustomed to people with poor social skills. But if I took time to look at each character as well as how each actor molded themselves into someone else, as well as the script and the cleverness and quickness of the speaking, I think I could appreciate it more. Thanks for the review. :) Like!

  5. woops, I mean "you're" I hate when people do that!

  6. this movie shocked me into near silence as well. i had such low hopes for this movie. but the writing is so razor-sharp it's hard to not give it accolades.

  7. i think i just loved the movie so much because it just brought back so many college memories. made me think of being at howard payne and getting facebook and how excited everyone was. it was just so cool to me being able to see behind the scenes. and i am a huge justin timberlake fan so of course i thought his part was the best in the film. i mean, come on. he was a bad ass. love love loved the movie. :)

  8. I liked this film a lot more than I expected.

    I agree with you on Eisenberg. I thought he did a really great job of capturing the nuisances of Zuckerberg quite well. Impressed, but not completely won over, so I'm anxious to see more of his work in the future.

    I LOVED Andrew Garfield in this. At first I wasn't sure, but as the film progressed and his character developed I got completeeeely swept away. Really excited to see him in more roles!

    Now Justin Timberlake. Sigh. I think what makes this film so good is the ability for the viewer to connect with the characters, which I think is made possible through the lesser known actors chosen for their roles. I was very frustrated because I felt like I wasn't watching Sean Parker, I was watching Justin Timberlake acting as Sean Parker. That isn't to say that JT can't be a good actor, but I just think he wasn't the right person for this role at all. For me, he didn't bring anything to this character, so Parker just kind of came across as a cookie cutter bad guy. I also hated the casting of the brothers (but thought the friend to the brothers was good.)

    I thought the script was exceptionally strong, and can understand the praise for the score. I think my biggest problem, if you could call it that, is that I didn't feel like I took anything away from the film. It was highly entertaining, but I guess with all the hype I was just expecting something a little bit more than just entertainment. Probably just me though :) !

  9. Great comments! I can see what you mean about not taking much away from it. I guess the message is don't let bitterness and superiority rule your life. Or what is power and money without friendship? I loved it for just how wonderfully acted and put together the film was. It's just a great piece of film in almost every way. I was mostly impressed by the writing. Just brilliant. And YES Andrew does win you over. You are powerless to stop it! :)

    As for JT. I thought he was good. Not WONDERFUL, but ok. And he played a sniveling little douchebag well. Watching the cast commentary also helped me to warm to his performance. I loved hearing them all talk about what it was like to do what they did.

    Also, I took away a huge love for the bromance that is Jesse/Andrew. OH MAH GUH ADORBS.

  10. Yes yes yes!!! That's everything I wanted to say about Mark in the first 2 minutes. It was brilliant. I was worried about seeing this film as well, but after it won that award at the Golden Globes I knew I had to. And after the first 2 minutes of the film I knew I was in for a good show. His character was so complex and there were many times throughout the film where you could tell he didn't necessarily WANT to be hurting Eduardo..or making those bad decision...but he just couldn't stop himself.

    When what's-her-name said "You're not an asshole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be." I was like, YES YES YES!!! I'm not sure if the line was absolutely necessary, but it drove home the point they were trying to make with his character.

    Eduardo, of course, was my favorite. I did feel like the relationship between Mark and Eduardo was manipulated a little...I with Mark hadn't let other people get in the way of his "need" to be accepted. Then maybe they could have had a happy ending.

    It was also interesting watching the beginning of Facebook and remembering my first ventures with Facebook, etc. It was almost surreal to see a movie about the beginning of something that is such a large part of our culture now..but actually was just created a mere 5ish years ago. I remember when Facebook was "exclusive" to colleges and how it evolved since then. Seeing what it was like from the creator's point of view was eye-opening and almost made me feel guilty for loving a website that tore two people apart.

    Which brings me to the ending. HATED IT. I can honestly say I didn't see the ending coming. When the captions started across the screen I was bewildered. I even went back because I thought I had missed something...but nope! Too abrupt for my taste. I wasn't left with the right "feeling" or "sense."

    And why do all these people have such weird names??? They couldn't have made those up if they tried.