“The Social Network” Review

David Fincher's magnum opus

Jim Tarrant, Reporter

It’s difficult to say what exactly makes a David Fincher movie so hypnotizing. He’s one of the few big studio directors left that has complete faith in the intelligence of his audience. Nothing is spelled out for you, and everything on screen is cold and calculated. I can say with confidence that “The Social Network” is Fincher’s magnum opus.   

As the name would suggest, the film chronicles the creation of Facebook; one of the most popular and lucrative social networking sites in the world. It follows Mark Zuckerberg, as he transforms from a skinny, awkward nobody into one of the richest and most influential people in the world. The film takes place over the course of six years, from Zuckerberg’s time at Harvard University all the way up to a massive lawsuit carried out by Facebook’s former CFO. Despite the fact this is a story about a real-life person inventing a real-life thing, this is not a documentary. A decent amount of people come into movies like this with the expectation that it’s going to be a one-to-one recreation of the actual events they’re based on. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this. For one, the film is actually based on a book written by Ben Mezrich called “The Accidental Billionaires”. If there were to be any inaccuracies in how certain events were portrayed, it could possibly be traced back to the book. Secondly, the film is less about Facebook than most people would anticipate. The creation of Facebook is almost used as a backdrop for a more personal and emotional conflict taking place. 

At its core, “The Social Network” is a story about relationships. Mark Zuckerberg is presented as a man who greatly understands systems, but not people. The film opens with an awkward break-up between Zuckerberg and his girlfriend. This is one of the many social mishaps throughout the film, most of which we see in the constantly morphing relationship between Mark and his best friend and CFO Eduardo. They exist in an almost yin and yang relationship; Mark is spindly and distant while Eduardo is handsome and charismatic. Both are equally invested in the website’s success, but their methods of advancing that are constantly at odds with each other. This relationship is the center of the movie, and as we watch it deteriorate, we are given a greater picture of the anomaly that is Mark Zuckerberg. What’s great about it is that how you’re supposed to feel about Mark is never spelled out for you. 

One of the movie’s greatest attributes is its ability to take ordinary conversation and transform it into a bombastic spectacle. In a story that is basically all talk, it’s paramount that every word has a kick and energy to it. Thankfully, “The Social Network” delivers on that front with some of the most entrancing and satisfying dialogue ever put to film. The movie is at its best during long stretches of conversation; you know you’ve done a good job as a screenwriter when you can make a legal deposition the highlight of your film. Whether the conversation is friendly or hostile, everything is communicated with equal parts clarity and complexity.