» LATEST FEATURES

LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

October 4, 2010
RATING: 9.1/10
About halfway through David Fincher's The Social Network, Justin Timberlake--playing Napster creator and Palo Alto playboy Sean Parker--shows up twenty-five minutes late to an exploratory dinner with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg), his friend and CFO Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), and Saverin's starstruck groupie-girlfriend (Brenda Song). Saverin's outraged at Parker's tardiness, but Zuckerberg, whom Eisenberg's been playing as pathologically hard to impress, is so aroused at the thought of building something like Napster he curtly dismisses his partner's complaints.

When Parker arrives, he immediately sets about seducing everyone at the table--everyone in the room--except for Saverin, whom in quick, light close-ups Fincher shows us Parker sizing up and shrugging off. Parker talks; Saverin makes sulky interjections. Zuckerberg, leaning an inch forward from the hermetic slump where he lives, is tingling with interest. He nods at everything Parker says--not like a sycophant, but like a person whose language is finally being spoken. And Saverin's girlfriend, who like everyone at the table probably remembers exactly which song she first downloaded from Napster, wriggles in rapture at Parker's every sociopathic wink. It's the whole movie in a spare handful of minutes, told not just in dialogue but in nods and blinks and milliseconds' glances: Saverin is abandoned by Zuckerberg, who's corruptible not by money but by the promise of credit for a paradigm shift.

This is a wonderful scene--tightly written, generously directed, gleefully acted--and the best thing that can be said about The Social Network is that it's not the only one. The movie's crammed with dialogue, delivered desperately fast (sans credits, it runs less than two hours), but its depth and truth come from body language, from posture, from Timberlake's huckster's smile and the squint of irritated contempt that scrunches Eisenberg's face every time somebody talks to him about something insufficiently visionary. Aaron Sorkin, who wrote The West Wing and well-spoken but flat movies like A Few Good Men and Malice (their good bits long ago conveniently packaged for YouTube, which I guess is a whole other movie), supplies plenty of neato one-liners[*], but he also consistently hits the embarrassing notes you'd expect in a movie about Facebook: lots of talk about Harvard as a Society Where Status Is Everything and too-pat scenes organized around eureka moments in which Zuckerberg invents this or that famous Facebook feature. But where he flags, Fincher and his actors fill the gaps. It's the kind of movie where if the lines go bad for a second you can just watch the actors thinking.

The story shouldn't really be talked about. This isn't Agatha Christie or Inception--it's rich enough to survive spoilers--but the pleasure of the zippy plot is still a cruel thing to steal. What can be mentioned is how complicated, and temporally unstuck, the movie is: it vaults between two and sometimes three different time periods with different complicated plots, sometimes in the space of a scene, sometimes in the space of five seconds. It features, as a framing device, two seperate depositions mediated by two separate teams of lawyers. At one point, Mark Zuckerberg drinks a beer and writes a Perl script at a moment when the movie's emotional flow calls for an action scene.

Fincher makes it an action scene--just as he makes all the frantic crosscutting elegant and legible. He's a technocrat, but he's an egoless one, putting his efficient tricks at the service of his actors, like a fairy godmother. The best synecdoche for The Social Network might be the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, whom Zuckerberg contemptuously calls the "Winklevii" and who are both played by Armie Hammer. The joke, and it's a grinningly lovely one, is that the silver-spooned, slightly meatheaded twins everyone in the movie refers to collectively are in fact masterfully distinguished: without a moment's apparent sweat, Hammer inhabits the seperate shades of voice and carriage in two men with the same history and the same genes. There's a lot of effects work here, of course, just as there was in Fincher's excellent Zodiac (which was one of the CG-heaviest movies of its year despite being mostly about guys filling out forms). But Fincher and his tech team have only built a kind of computerized harness for Hammer himself, who is a living effect, and who gives a great comic performance, disguised as two, disguised as one.

That's mostly what you're in for at The Social Network: performances. Whether the movie has much to say about greed and obsession and business management and Our Heady Times is doubtful. (Whether it has anything at all to say about anyone resembling the real Mark Zuckerberg is extremely doubtful.) It can be po-faced and ridiculous, and is gripped occasionally by hiccups of cliche. It has a goofy final shot. But it's also expansive, and curious, and perceptive, and generous to its actors, and interested in the ways smart and driven people think and breathe and talk, and attentive to the measure and tone of real situations. Late in the movie, Zuckerberg, Saverin and Parker have a tense argument in a room co-occupied by two California blondes playing video games badly and pausing every few minutes to giggle "bong hit!". The scene never abandons them; they're as present as the protagonists. Here's a movie that doesn't forget to tag anybody.





[*] The one every review is obliged to quote, and which really does deserve it, is this postscript from a departing girlfriend in the movie's first scene: "You're going to be extremely successful and rich, but you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a geek. I want to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole." The Social Network has little time for women, and its sexiest scenes are between Timberlake and Eisenberg, but when girls are allowed to talk Sorkin thoughtfully hands them zingers.
Back to text

SEE ALSO: www.thesocialnetwork-movie.com/

--
Theon Weber


See other articles by Theon Weber.

» MEDIA DOWNLOADS

» GOT STICKERS?

If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.

» WORLDWIDE DOMINATION

LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!