David Fincher’s latest film explores the making of Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard student and founder of the social networking website, Facebook. It chronicles his life from his early university days up until his establishment as the world youngest billionaire, navigating various lawsuits along the way.
‘The Social Network’ does a remarkable job of making an averagely interesting story into an almost gripping film. Full credit then, to David Fincher, as it is undoubtedly his direction that this is largely due to. The script as well – written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of no less than ‘The West Wing’ – is extremely well thought out, delivering believable rhetoric from each character and never becoming overly technical for its audience. Throw into the mix some slick filming and editing, very good performances all round and you have a recipe for success. The performances in particular were very adept, without there being one weak link throughout the cast; even Justin Timberlake, who probably has a long way to go yet to convince the general public he is a serious actor, was very good as Sean Parker.
A particularly interesting aspect of the films production concerns the age-old battle of differing imperatives from producer and director. Fincher was under contract to keep the running time of the film at about two hours, however Sorkin’s screenplay consisted of about 166 pages and this was sure to overrun. Not willing to sacrifice the integrity of Sorkin’s script, Fincher made his characters speak the dialogue faster than they normally would; this is particularly noticeable in the film’s opening scene. Interestingly, I actually felt like the fast-paced delivery worked very well in the context of the film. After all, these characters are supposed to be the super-intelligent, the rapid pace of the dialogue only added to that feel.
As a side note, it is worth paying particular attention to the performances of Andrew Garfield and Rooney Mara. While perhaps the parts they play in this picture will not be the highlights of their respective careers, clearly they are both rising stars and they could be two of the most important talents of the next decade.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable film. Even if you fail to become fully immersed in the story, there is still plenty here to entertain you and I would be surprised if many viewers find it at all tiresome or contrived. The main issue for some will be retaining an interest in the plot, either if you are particularly conscious of the fact that much of the accuracy has been embellished for the sake of the film (shock, horror!), or you simply find it difficult to empathise or connect with these kinds of people. However, this shouldn’t spoil your appreciation of a very solid and well put-together piece of cinema.