Movie Review - The Social Network (*****)


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The Social Network.  121 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by David Fincher.  Written by Aaron Sorkin.  Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Rooney Mara.
Sometimes you don't know you're watching a great movie until it's over.  Sometimes it hits you midway through.  And sometimes you know within the first few minutes.  The Social Network definitely fits into this last category.  Before the Columbia Pictures logo is even gone, the movie is off and running with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's hyper-intelligent, rapid-fire dialogue.  In fact, in recounting the origin tale of Facebook, Sorkin and director David Fincher rely heavily on the spoken word.  The movie is almost wall-to-wall dialogue, generating suspense even when the conclusion is foregone.  Throughout,The Social Network is an utterly compelling human drama.  Even if you're not on Facebook or couldn't care less about it, this movie demands your attention and is a must-see. 
Jesse Eisenberg plays Facebook mastermind and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.  He is fantastic in the role, shedding many of his more likeable tics to play Zuckerberg as a laser-focused, super smart asshole whom you just can't hate.  Most of the movie deals with the fall-out of Facebook's creation, and who reaps the benefits of its $25 billion empire.  In one corner, you've got Zuckerberg.  In another, you've got the Winkelvoss twins (in an amazing trick of visual wizardry, both played by Armie Hammer), Harvard students and Olympic rowers who claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea.  Then there's Eduardo Saverin,(Andrew Garfield, the new Spider-Man), Zuckerberg's best friend - who gets screwed out of a 34% share in the company.  Saverin is the moral conscience of the movie - rendered all the more apparent when Napster founder Sean Parker (a very good Justin Timberlake) enters the scene and complicates matters.  
Everything moves at a quick clip, jumping back and forth between Harvard University in 2003 and depositions among all the key players a few years later.  There is not one dull scene or second wasted - Sorkin and Fincher pack the movie with so much detail and nuance that you could watch it ten times in a row and still find something new.  From the opening break-up scene between Zuckerberg and Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) - which proves a master-class in Screenwriting 101 - to the club scene where Zuckerberg and Parker's exchange is nearly drowned out by the throbbing music, it's just one memorable moment after another.
The production quality of the entire film makes this Best Picture-worthy.  The acting is fantastic (both Eisenberg and Garfield should nab nominations for Actor and Supporting Actor, respectively), the music by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is unique and original - one of the best movie scores in recent memory.  The editing is flawless - seamlessly jumping back and forth in time without ever losing the audience or the built-up momentum.  Even Fincher, one of movies' greatest visual stylists takes a backseat to Sorkin's script.  To his credit, Fincher wisely keeps the movie taut and focused on the story iteself- and only really shows off behind the camera during a rowing scene in England.  As for Sorkin, he's all but guaranteed the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar come February.  
Audiences are going to be hearing a lot about The Social Network in the weeks, months, and even years ahead.  It is an "essential" movie in every sense of the word, and a movie that both brilliantly dramatizes the Internet movement of the last decade and hints at where we're headed in the near future.  Time to click that "Like" button.

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