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I had my doubts that The Social Network could live up to its own press when I decided to give it a chance. And, having seen it, I still don’t see the reason for the level of hype behind it. It is a very good film; I have no intention of degrading it in any way. I just don’t see the importance prematurely bestowed upon it. Even as a Facebook user I fail to see the importance in its foundation to the viewer.

 

Aaron Sorkin’s script is terrific. The dialogue is both believable and snappy, not forced except in the case of lead Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerman, where the effect is intended. Eisenberg portrays essentially the same character he and Michael Cera have had a stranglehold on for a few years, though devoid of all charm and innocence, these replaced by anger and social ineptitude. He portrays these excellently, making a good villain in a straw man kind of way. His every action is tied to its core psychological flaw by the attorneys on the other side of his case with relative ease. He counters a few of their attempts, proving himself capable enough in the courtroom setting, but still comes across as petulant and immature. The character’s flaws and insistence on grating behavior eventually reduce all attempts at redemption to coming too little too late. Even the closing moment rang false to me, as if a friend request should atone for any of his conduct.

 

Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker takes the notion of this irredeemably flawed character even further, providing nothing but Luciferesque temptation to Eisenberg’s vulnerable Zuckerman. His blatant attempts to worm his way in and push out the only really relatable character in the film, Zuckerman’s only friend, work in the film, though. He might as well be offering the world to Christ on the mountain when they sit around some L.A. nightclub contemplating the future worth of Facebook. Unfortunately Zuckerman is to Jesus as a worm is to a lion. It removes the drama of that particular story.

 

Zuckerman’s only friend, a point driven home too blatantly and too many times, is well done by Andrew Garfield. The pain of betrayal comes through brilliantly when the hammer finally drops on him, but the story is not his. The addition of his unstable girlfriend adds little to the story and takes up some valuable screen time. For better or worse the film belongs to Eisenberg and should have focused slightly less on Garfield.

 

David Fincher’s direction, especially during the rowing contest and its narrow loss for the Harvard team, makes much of the drama, adding layers to the image of the story. There was little chance for him to show this flair, though, in the numerous scenes of programming and mediation that make up the bulk of the film.

 

At heart the movie is an espionage picture, but sappy with betrayal between college friends. I enjoyed the film but had difficulty truly investing myself in it, the characters or the outcome of their struggle. The backstabbing may have cost a lot of money to a few people but without a little blood I fail to see the great drama in this. 3 ½ stars

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3 Comments

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