Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Social Network (Brockway)

The Social Network
Review by Ian Brockway

David Fincher is known for his dark  films. In "Seven" he set Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt up against a serial killer of biblically inspired malevolence. In "The Panic Room" Jodie Foster is driven to hysteria. Fincher is an auteur, a connoisseur of dark moods.

In "The Social Network", Fincher would seem to depart from haunting content as he takes on the true story of the Facebook web phenomenon, but not so. The film, although more subtle than the director's earlier work is as eerie and disturbing as any urban fright or killer flick.  The film stars Jessie Eisenberg as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.

At the film's opening, Zuckerberg is exchanging a bit of hostile deadpan banter with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara).  Zuckerberg is staccato, selfish and impersonal with an off-putting aloof sensitivity. He speaks in a chirp, a bit like the Internet that he stares at each day.  Suffice to say that Erica breaks up with

The cinematography is fittingly dimmed as in any Fincher film, but here the scenes are crisply shaded like a gray screensaver on a laptop. Even the Harvard buildings are icy and brown like transitors on a flat circuit board.  The musical score by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails tells of something sinister afoot.

Zuckerberg goes to his dorm and writes nasty things on the net about his girlfriend's breast size. He wants pictures of girls that he is not close to and doesn't know. He is monotone, pale, laconic and sarcastic by turns. Zuckerberg is digitally sociopathic.  Facebook, the website phenomenon was started out of petty revenge from a bruised ego.

Together with his best friend (Andrew Garfield)  he creates a program to rate the "hotness" of girls. Needless to say, the addictive program catches on and he is approached by two twin jocks who want to expand the program. The twins resemble androids in their blonde sculpted looks.

We know right from the start that Zuckerberg, with his spaced out blunt manner will get the better of them.  He agrees and then develops his own site. The most compelling thing about "The Social Network" is the odd
impersonal quality of the Zuckerberg character. In one of the best scenes, he spurns his best friend with all the nonchalance of Andy Warhol while the remainder of the drama unfolds with a Shakespearean intensity.

In the 60s and the 80's, young artistic verve was put into Pop Art. Now in the Millenium, it is all about the cult of the laptop web machine as a social tool and status symbol.  What matters is how many people know you and talk about you. The Internet is a new kingmaker.

It can either exalt a young person or throw him or her into a cruel storm of ridicule that would make Oscar Wilde cringe. An early Facebook profile is as biting as Dorian Gray. But if you are popular, you can recreate scenes from "Jackass", jumping from your roof with a zipline. And like Dorian Gray, you can live forever: The Net never ages.

At the conclusion, Zuckerberg is a lost soul. He is left alone in a cold law office, repeatedly mouse-clicking his ex-girlfriend's picture. The monotone clicking is the only sound audible. Zuckerberg can no longer relate or even Create. Alas, as a kind of Shakespeare story in cyberspace, one has the feeling that the friendless
Zuckerberg is betrayed by his last and only friend--his own website.

Et Tu, Facebook?

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