Editor’s Note: Welcome back from the Big Lens! We are currently running the ‘My Favourite Film’ feature, which is your chance to get to know our new writers. And here is Kieran’s pick!
It would be easy to dismiss The Social Network (2010) as just ‘the story of Facebook’, but that would be doing a massive disservice to the decade’s defining film dealing with technology, isolation and betrayal. Directed by David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac), The Social Network tells the story of Harvard student and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) who, with his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), creates a website that will forever change the way the world communicates. Zuckerberg becomes the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, but that success doesn’t come without a few legal battles and a lot of backstabbing.
The main stand-out of this film is the Oscar-winning script, written by The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, which has been adapted from Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires. The script is truly a thing of beauty – so much so that it has been said David Fincher told his actors to talk faster so they didn’t have to lose any of the 164-page script. This is abundantly clear in the opening, which cracks and bristles with energy, and the film never loosens its grip from there. To critics, Sorkin’s has never seemed better than when paired with Fincher’s precisely calibrated filmmaking, as the director tones down some of the ‘Sorkinism’.
Another Oscar-winning part of this film is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score. It twitches and buzzes with ambient beats, only to be undercut by an emotional piano melody. It has a synergetic quality in this film, creating something truly spectacular.
The performances are also terrific, with Eisenberg playing Zuckerberg’s bubbling under-the-surface contempt towards anyone who he deems inferior (practically everyone) to perfection. Garfield, who originally wanted to play Zuckerburg, is the film’s real stand-out performance, despite being snubbed for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar award. He brings not only heart and compassion but an umbilical cord to the audience, helping us understand a world that seems so foreign to most of us. It’s also important to mention Armie Hammer’s dual performance as the Winklevoss twins that were so convincing it took me multiple viewings to realise it wasn’t a role played by two actors.
Having watched this film way into double figures, I get something new from it every time, whether it’s an extra missed nugget from the script or a precise detail put in by David Fincher. This film is the Citizen Kane of the 21st century and only in multiple years from now will we see not just what an achievement it is, but also how timely it really was.