The Social Network : Exaggerated, Dramatic but Brilliant
“When there’s emotional testimony, I assume that 85% of it is exaggeration”.
Aaron Sorkin cleverly confessed that he exaggerated the life of Mark Zuckerberg and wrote something that we may find too dramatic. But Do I complain? Not really, as long as it remains great as a cinematic piece, I don’t. And on a cinematic level, this is one of the most brilliant film scripts ever.
The film begins with an aggressively talented Mark Zuckerberg bullying his date, Erica. However he has no clue that he is being rude to her, while making unfiltered opinion about her life and her ‘mediocre’ education, it is unintentionally mean and honest. Before he could even realize it, she dumps him. This is when Mark realizes that “it is for real”. He is a tech prodigy, a nerd with the kind of social skills that almost resembles an Asperger’s Syndrome. His one and only utter desire is to get ‘in.’
They say a great film isn’t a masterpiece if it doesn’t stand the test of time. I couldn’t agree more with another definition of a masterpiece. Over the years, many brilliant films lose the initial charm it once possessed, this doesn’t happen with Masterpieces. David Fincher’s The Social Network is one such film, it is already 7 years old and I have to say that my opinion about it has not changed one bit, in fact it has become a finer piece of cinema since my first viewing.
I don’t usually say this, but The Social Network is perhaps one of the most flawless films I have ever seen. Everything about it was perfect or on the verge of being perfect. The production design was brilliant, it created the perfect hip and urban ambiance a film about an internet start-up required. The background score which kept the energy of the movie alive was brilliant as well but the highlight of the movie is the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin.
We often come across movies where the writing overpowers everything else in the film. Films written by Charlie Kaufman are like that, Quentin Tarantino indulges his viewers in the writing, more than anything else and post The Social Network, the same can be said about Aaron Sorkin. More than anyone else, it is and will always be remembered as an Aaron Sorkin film. The script is swift, deep and sharp and it doesn’t take rest, not for a second, which was Fincher’s brilliance to let us feel how fast the world moves in Silicon Valley. There isn’t one dull moment in the film, it constantly switches back and forth between 3 different timelines and challenges you to indulge with the script. The film has a kind of energy that the whole run time of the film appears like an extended climax.
I have to admit, Social Network changed my opinion about David Fincher. Even with a certain ‘Fight Club’ shining on his resume, I always considered him a a genre filmmaker. He is anything but that, he has a style of his own but he has no limitation to what he can lay on the table for us.
Jesse Eisenberg should and was the best one of the lot here; I don’t think he could be any better than this. He totally understood the psyche of a nerd. There were many character shades in his version of Mark Zuckerberg but he never revealed any of those like a typical nerd. After creating Facebook, he came across Erica in a restaurant and tried talking to her, maybe to apologize, but after she refuses to talk to him, he walks out of the place, seemingly angry and says “We need to Expand”. In an earlier scene, in his only meeting with the Winklevoss brothers, he learnt that they row crews. Incidentally Erica, his ex girlfriend, liked guys who row crews and may be that was the initial drive to piss them off and create Facebook loosely based on their idea. As Intellectual and emotionless he may have pretended to be, there were many instances where we see him doing things just to prove a point beyond profit or anything material.
In a scene when Harvard’s network crashes, the always nervous and hesitant Eduardo Saverin [played by Andrew Garfield] nervously looks at Mark saying “you don’t think” to which Mark instantly replies with a certain pride in his eyes “I do.” There is rhythm in the way these characters talked throughout the movie. When such a rhythm is found in a conversation that merely contains 5 words, you know the guy who wrote those had a brilliant director backing him up with how he shot the scene. There was a similar rhythm in the famous foot massage conversation between Jules and Vincent in Pulp Fiction.
The Social Network is also about great storytelling, many films try the non-linear narration but not every film is as smartly constructed as this one. We follow a particular chronology of events and suddenly we are in the middle of a lawsuit and then to another and then we come back to the original flow of the story. It is smartly written, easy to follow and sucks you in instantly.
The Social Network is old enough to be considered a modern classic and it is only going to be better with every new time you relish it. However, I will always have one silly issue with The Social Network that I will never be able to introduce Fincher as the man who made Fight Club, because as much as I loved Fight Club, Fincher’s true shiner on his CV is The Social Network.