Wayback Wednesday: The Social Network (2010)

Do you think the story about founding TikTok is just as dramatic?

“Can you believe they’re making a movie about Facebook? Hollywood has officially run out of ideas!”

In the months leading up to the release of The Social Network (2010), that’s all you heard. Remember, this was at a time when Facebook was at the height of its popularity and making a movie about the site seemed as out of place as if you made a movie about Instagram in 2020. Of course, the movie is so much more than just a glorified ad for Facebook and ended up being one of the most acclaimed, well-received and entertaining movies of the 2010s. Oh, and as for our worry that Hollywood had run out of ideas as early as 2010…if only we knew what the decade had in store for us.

Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 8.50.56 AM
Credit: imdb.com / Sony Pictures Releasing

Based on the book, “The Accidental Billionaires,” The Social Network tells the true story of Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard student who created a social networking phenomenon: Facebook. As Zuckerberg’s success and the popularity of Facebook grow, so do the amount of betrayals, backstabs and lawsuits.

I remember this movie being a big deal when it came out. Everyone was talking about how great it was (rightfully so) and I even remember our civics teacher showing it to us in Gr.10 for some reason. Maybe to teach us how not to be traitorous entrepreneurs? Whatever the reason, since the first time I saw The Social Network it has become a movie I never get tired of watching. Even almost 10 years later! Like any biopic, I think that part of the enjoyment is the sensation that you’re getting an exclusive look at the origin of something that greatly impacted human culture. What I love most about The Social Network is how it takes an almost mundane story and amps up the drama, intrigue and thrilling aspects to create a tight two-hour movie that is impossible to stop watching. That feat is pulled off by the phenomenal team of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher.

Sorkin’s script is amazing. Never failing to generate interest, the sharp writing keeps you captivated from the beginning of the movie to the end. Now, disclaimer, Sorkin himself has admitted that certain events have been dramatized for the sake of cinema. That’s fine. The premise of the movie in still based in fact and if anything, the ability to dramatize what some may see asdull only proves how gifted a writer Sorkin is. He’s a true storyteller, one whose mastery of snappy dialogue is unmatched. God, the opening scene between Mark and his girlfriend Erica is so electric and rapid-fire that following their dialogue is like following a tennis match.

Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), Gone Girl (2014)…David Fincher’s direction style is so iconic and signature that it’s practically a genre all its own.  His cool, mellow colour palette and smooth tracking shots endow this drama with the feel of a suave crime thriller, increasing the anticipation and excitement that comes from watching The Social Network. Really, hiring Fincher to helm a tech-based biopic with elements of a legal drama is genius. Pair his flawless direction with Sorkin’s intoxicating words and you’ve got a dream team. Seriously, these need two need to work together again. If The Social Network were a work of art (which I strongly consider it to be) than Sorkin would be responsible for drawing the picture with Fincher filling it with colour. Together, they create a masterpiece. Ooh, that was deep. Maybe I should start a blog where I review art next.

Jesse Eisenberg was totally deserving of his Best Actor Oscar nomination. As Mark, he brings a unique quality to the Facebook CEO. From the beginning, Mark is written as a rude, vindictive, pretentious worm, a characterization that Eisenberg masterfully brings to life. More than once I found myself going, “wait, Mark is low-key the villain of this story!” Like, Lex Luthor-level villain. Ironically, Eisenberg’s performance as Mark Zuckerberg is a better portrayal of Lex Luthor than when he actually played the supervillain in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). You absolutely hate Mark and the pompous was he acts as God’s gift to the world and yet, there’s still an alluring quality to him. Villainous as he is, you still want Mark to come out on top. Playing a character who walks the line between hero and villain so finely is a high-wire act but Eisenberg pulls it off in a way that few actors could. This is a sensational performance.

Of course, there are no weak links in the ensemble cast. The supporting roles from Rashida Jones and Brenda Song (who is so fun, let her be in more things!) are utilized perfectly to forward the story along and Armie Hammer pulling double duty as the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, is delightfully douche-y. Sidenote, remember when we as a society were all floored that Hammer DIDN’T have a twin? Shocking. Speaking of shocking, I’m not a big fan of Justin Timberlake as an entertainer, but even I have to admit that his role as Sean Parker is mesmerizing. He may only be in the movie for less than an hour, but Timberlake manages to deliver a memorable performance that is both impressive and magnetic. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been mad if he had received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as this neurotic playboy with all the slime of a used car salesman.

I also want to thank The Social Network for thrusting Andrew Garfield into the spotlight. Not only is he a talented dramatic actor, but he’s so charming that he’s able to bring bursts of comedic relief to the movie, balancing out the movie’s staggering number of betrayals. Seriously, I don’t think anyone makes it through this movie unscathed. Everyone feels the ramifications of Mark’s rise to success and in one way or another, are affected by greed, pride or a lust for power. There’s an almost Shakespearean edge to The Social Network. Many scenes, especially the deposition scenes which are spliced into the main story perfectly, capture the tension and drama of the movie in a way that is reminiscent of live theatre. Once again, the pairing of Fincher and Sorkin is genius.

I’m happy to report that The Social Network totally holds up. Countless viewings later and I’m still spellbound by almost every scene of this brilliant movie. If you haven’t seen The Social Network in a while but remember liking it when it came out, definitely give it a re-watch. And if you’ve never seen it PERIOD, definitely see it! Interest in Facebook may be dying, but my interest in The Social Network never will.

Are you a fan of The Social Network?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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