Film Review: Defacing Reality

Title – The Social Network

Director – David Fincher

Starring – Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake

Release Date – Out Now

“You don’t get 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Well, for one thing, they’re not technically his friends. David Fincher’s The Social Network depicts the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), as an intellectual loner. Zuckerburg is isolated not necessarily because of his computer programming genius – Harvard babes love that type of thing – but for his seemingly nihilistic attitude to relationships. Zuckerberg favours the social capitalism of ‘the facebook’, ultimately leaving him and one-time best friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield) in the midst of a bitter lawsuit.

Fincher’s extraordinary film takes place over three timelines, with one time frame elapsing into another by way of explanation through flashback. It’s a style Fincher does extremely well, and the chaotic structure brilliantly adds emotional depth to the narrative.

As the plot is gradually unveiled, it’s difficult to decide who the bad guy is – apart from the obvious snake-in-the-grass Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, who is played surprisingly brilliantly by Justin Timberlake. Parker’s seemingly effortless cool is best highlighted in the standout scene, wherein he casually exits a restaurant in which the main characters are located, telling the impressionable Mark to “drop the ‘the’” from ‘the facebook’, as it sounds “cleaner”.

It seems Timberlake has finally found his acting niche – as one of those characters the audience loves to hate. Parker acts as the catalyst in the demise of friendship between investor Eduardo and creator Mark, and highlights the main, inherently social issues raised by the film – loyalty and betrayal.

The film’s structural conceit – how the narrative is explained through the framing device of the two lawsuits – turns what could have been dry subject matter into a dramatic, visually interesting and fast-paced 120 minutes. The film’s ingenuity becomes apparent when we begin to question the validity and truth of each character’s testimony, and in doing so, challenge not only our own ideas of who the ‘bad guy’ is, but challenge the ability of the film itself to represent the truth.

This is not a film about Facebook. This is a film about social interaction, about being human and all the jealousy, frustration and greed that comes with it.

In a Nutshell: A Rashomon-esque exploration of truth in which the cast and director emerge with credit.