Wednesday, January 12, 2011
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.
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.