You don’t have to look far as a Hollywood executive before you see that a film about the origins of facebook is an almost surefire endeavor. As social media marks its territory on human consciousness and history, facebook is THE juggernaut. With more than 500 million active accounts, facebook has almost single handedly changed the way we communicate. I would wager a guess that the average facebook user checks his/her profile page (from home or mobile device) at least 10 times per day (I’m being stubbornly conservative with this guess). All things considered, now seems like almost too perfect of a time for a facebook movie.
I would be lying if I claimed not to be flabbergasted by the amount of critical praise The Social Network has received. Generally speaking, the only movies to garner 98% positive reviews on rottentomatoes.com are animated pictures that guilt critics into giving positive criticisms. It is almost unheard of for a live-action, dramatic film to receive a score of 90% of above. Needless to say, my expectations were elevated for my screening of The Social Network. Although there are some extremely positive thins to say about the film, such critical praise is unwarranted.
Producers of The Social Network are lucky they got David Fincher on board to direct, because without his presence, the film would cease to make any sort of impact. Although the origins of facebook are interesting, the film appears to trade in authenticity for emotionally devoid dramatics. Although I expect such a thing from a major Hollywood production, the film’s narrative winds up being an insulting caricature. The caricaturing comes predominately from the film’s lead performances. Jesse Eisenberg provides the most vulgar caricature, depicting facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as weakling and anti-socialite. Not since Antitrust have I seen a young computer programmer depicted so uninterestingly. The lampoons continue with characters like the Winklevoss twins. And, although I feel strongly for Justin Timberlake’s ability to hold his own with other entertainment personalities, his portrayal of Napster founder Sean Parker is a complete joke, and undermines whatever credibility Fincher sought for his characters to contribute.
Luckily for the film, David Fincher demonstrates again why he is an elite director. His talents as a filmmaker should never go understated, and he put forth an honest effort in doing justice to what may be the most attractive film plot in recent memory. From scene-to-scene, Fincher makes the film come alive. At times, you literally feel like you are a fly on the wall of a dorm room, watching eccentric programmers do what they do best. The film’s editing was also quite effective, switching from a linear narrative and the aftermaths of court litigations. Praise should also be given to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their contributions to the film’s score, which at times is hauntingly poignant for such topic matter.
As many critics have pointed out, this film isn’t so much a tale of the history of facebook as it is a commentary on wealth, power, greed, and life. Unfortunately, it contributes little insight into any of these salient issues. The scenes that should serve to debate some of these issues are sacrifices for unconvincing arguments between any numbers of underdeveloped characters.
Unfortunately for The Social Network, its attempt to narrate a convoluted story leaves it falling short of the many insights it could have made. Through the inclusion of characters and plot elements that go underdeveloped, the film falls short. Apart from the genuinely stellar work from Fincher and faculty, there are few reasons to see this movie. You’d be better off getting your fill of moral lessons from films that don’t try to be too many things at once. I feel it is important for a film to have identity and purpose. Although efforts are certainly made, The Social Network has neither.
© 2010 Brent Bracamontes