Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Social Network - ****

The Social Network isn't flashy or fast-paced or full of distracting stylistic flourishes. It's straightforward, precise, and steadily paced... it is completely assured film making, and it inspires nothing but confidence in its viewer from the first frame. Its opening scene, like all of its scenes, is a micro-masterpiece, masterfully written, lit with perfection and purpose, and flawlessly performed. It also features one of the best lines to kick-start and encapsulate a film I've ever heard: "You're probably going to be very successful some day, and when girls don't like you, you're going to think it's because you're a nerd, but it's really because you're an asshole."

When I first heard about "the Facebook movie," I thought it was a stupid idea, but that was before I learned that it was about the creation of Facebook, and not a series of trite observations from loose acquaintances. It couldn't be more the opposite of what Facebook has become, and I can assure you that The Social Network tells a fascinating story that transcends an Internet fad.

The truly great thing about the film is Mark Zuckerberg. There is some debate over how right or wrong it was of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to take liberties with this story, which has Zuckerberg doing some pretty awful things. But what it amounts to is one of the most interesting, engaging, and entertaining characters I've ever seen. I actually found myself rooting for him to screw over all of his friends and explain why he is better than they are, because he does it so gracefully, so fluently, and so goddamn entertainingly that it is absolutely irresistible. I actually found myself wanting to be him at times, despite the fact that what I know about him leads me to believe that he is a complete asshole. But he makes for such an amazing character, and I think that that's one of the great things about movies: when you can trust and root for somebody you would never want to know in real life. The Social Network is at once great escapism and painfully poignant, and it's a masterpiece.

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