More noise than signal

The Social Network

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Aaron Benjamin Sorkin is someone ripe for covering by himself at some point in this podcast series, the American sceenwriter famed for his sharp dialogue, leftwing political leanings and author’s viewpoint insertion, and also his apparent inability or unwillingness to write female characters. He’s also rather dismissive of this “Internet” thing, viewing the greatest tool humanity has invented for communication and dissemination of knowledge and ideas as a Bad Thing for reasons he’s never been able to properly define, apart from it not existing in the 1940’s which is clearly what he thinks America’s ideal society was.

An odd choice, perhaps, to tell the story of the site that for many people is the Internet, Facebook. This matters less than you’d expect, because the existence of the company that in July 2016 hit a valuation of $350 billion dollars, with analysts suggesting it could hit $1 trillion, is a footnote in this, let’s politely say speculative look at the dynamics between the company founders, the influencers that come with their success, and the people who claim their idea was stolen.

Said founders are of course Mark Zuckerberg, played here by Jesse Eisenberg and apparently straight up stolen as the characterisation for Batman vs Superman‘s Lex Luthor, and Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin, the business end of Zuckerberg’s hot new site, The Facebook, the social network that I’m sure you’re at least passingly familiar with. In the early days it seems largely similar to its current incarnation, but it was limited to students at Zuckerberg’s alma mater, Harvard Uni, spreading out amongst the hoity toity Ivy League universities before lower class scum such as us could sign up.

Often framed as depositions in the respective court cases, it’s two main flashpoints are Max Minghella’s Divya Narendra and Armie Hammer’s dual weilding Winklevosses, Cameron and Tyler claiming that Zuckeberg stole their essential idea for the site, and Saverin’s claim that he was screwed out of his fair share of the buisness, largely due to marginalisation after Zuckerberg went all starry eyed after meeting Napster founder Sean Parker, here played surprisingly well by modern-day crooner Justin “Thunder” Timberlake.

Veracity aside – and framing Zuckerberg’s entire enterprise as a means to reconnect with a barely touched on girl, Rooney Mara’s Erica Albright, is a one collosal pile of veracity – it’s a much more interesting tale than the capsule review of coding and depositions would have you believe, in no small part to Sorkin’s gift for snappy, back and forth dialogue that’s more aspirational than realistic, but no less enjoyable for it.

All of the leads prove well up to their tasks, with crisp delivery and believable characterisation, although particular plaudits plust ple paid plu pl-Eisenberg, who I don’t believe I’ve seen better from. Fincher gives another masterclass in pacing, and his style again merges seamlessly wth the narrative rather than tripping over it.

I’d remembered this as being my favourite film of 2010 – a quick check actually reveals that to be Inception, but it was a pretty close run thing, and given how much I love Inception – spoiler warning, I really love Inception – there’s certainly few films I would recommend as highly as this.