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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"The Social Network", the Facebook monster

The Social Network

I won't start this review writing about the social impact of Facebook, a universal phenomena everyone is aware and probably has an opinion on it. Instead, I'll try to focus on just the film, as behind "The Social Network" superficial storyline, mapping the origins of the network, there's a stimulating and really absorbing, yet not completely satisfying, analysis on human behaviour, focused on the complex character of its creator and co-founder, the world famous, and very controversial, young billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

The new "Citizen Kane", udpated and ready for our virtual era, this film has been defined by many critics. Certainly the mistery that surrounds Zuckerberg attitudes, and the tragic human dimension that the films brings to the table so well has a notable connection with the so well-known cinema classic. Praise director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for their braveness and talent to make a film about, at least on paper, such a boring and elusive topic, Facebook, and instead present us such an absorbing and vivid work.

Because "The Social Network" is not like your average biopic where the hero starts from zero, shows he/she is a genious in a few silly epic scenes (always with bombastic music), suffers because of the struggle he/she faces while tries to achieve his/her goal and finally succeeds. No, here we have a person that is a complete mistery. Someone who seems frustrated and near consumed by his devils, who creates something very powerful, not without its contradictions, but that after achieving an outstanding and hard to compare triumph, seems still frustrated and in a perennial emotional unrest.

His creation, Facebook of course, serves Fincher to ellaborate an unorthodox and dramatic paradox. Is Zuckerberg a pioneer, a young genious comparable to the great inventors that provoked a media and social revolution with their discoveries? Or is he just an isolated nerd that despite his achievements can only face loneliness and the sort of fake relationships (which, at least to an extent, is the most obvious and well-founded criticism Facebook has) the network he has designed can offer?

For good and bad, "The Social Network" doesn't solve that enigma. We cannot be sure of Zuckerberg's real motivations. Money, power, control, the need to impress a girl, the fear of being excluded or failing, they don't seem real or complete reasons here. Is he just an eccentric? Or a plain asshole? Does he creates Facebook as a way to let his resentment flow and revenge against his lack of social success? Is he consumed by his ego? These questions are constantly present for the movie watcher, helped by the elusive and impassive gestures and expression of Jesse Eisenberg (terrific job). But at the same time, despite being undoubtfully striking and intriguing, I also believe that maybe Fincher and Sorkin loose the reigns of the film, probably too convinced they have found "the greatest American movie and character" in Zuckerberg.

It might be just me, but the amount of situations where Zuckerberg behaves like the human equivalent of an amoeba is puzzling. Zero passion and emotion, in scenes where friendship, love, work and integrity are obviously at risk. Unless Fincher wanted to parallel Facebook virtual, aseptic, simulated relationships with his emotionless creator, I'm sorry to say there are too many moments on "The Social Network" where Zuckerberg's inscrutability is pushed too far, making him an unbelievable character.

In addition, some other minor concerns on the film arise. One is the lack of evolution of Facebook itself. We are only enlightened about the unstoppable increase of users, but there's nothing about adding advertisement on it, when its a pretty big deal at first between Eduardo Saverin (phenomenal play by Andrew Garfield) and Zuckerberg, or the privacy issues. Another concern is precisely the relation between Saverin and Zuckerberg. How are we supposed to believe there's real friendship between them? Zuckerberg use him almost since the very beginning, while Saverin seems "too normal" to relate with such a person or being unable to see how is he behaving. On third position, we have Sean Parker's (ideal role for Justin Timberlake) character. The Napster creator presence is perhaps a bit too flashy and cliché-enlightening to convince. It is hard to believe such a smart and cautious person as Zuckerberg can "fall" so quickly for such a trickster. And finally, there's an absolute lack of interest in secondary roles. Facebook co-workers, supposed friends, the girls, even the ridiculed "Harvard twins", are just sketches of flesh and bone persons.

"The Social Network" is a risky and very attractive film, a sounding and relevant ride to a narcissistic society, obsessed with virtual popularity, focused on the peculiar figure of its creator, not in the network itself. But is not the referral piece, the masterpiece some argue.

SCORE: 6,75/10

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