Summary: Though mired by its distortions of true events, ‘The Social Network’ is a gripping, must-see character study.
Review: There are some films that defy our attempts to digest them. They’re so rich and layered and thought-provoking that they demand further analysis, compelling us to return to the meal one stomach-bursting bite at a time. David Fincher’s ‘The Social Network’ is, as you can tell by my obvious lead-in, one such movie. What makes it really fascinating, though, is that dares to exist at all. Facebook isn’t even a decade old and Mark Zuckerberg, its much-envied CEO, hasn’t yet reached 30. One would think it’s a little early for a gutsy, revisionist biopic, but apparently not in the hyper-accelerated world of 2010, where memetic mutation takes place at an incredible rate.
‘The Social Network’ is not, in fact, the true story of Facebook, but it is an extremely fascinating character study. Mark Zuckerberg’s reputation will now have to compete with that of his fictional counterpart, brilliantly played by Jesse Eisenberg, who I hope gets the Oscar. It’s really eerie to see popular media process a person into a character; I would say that we usually have the grace to wait until the person dies, but that isn’t true. The media does it to celebrities of all kinds every day. ‘The Social Network’ could be just an extreme example of society’s attempt to make challenging personalities more convenient, but the filmmakers rescued it. Though the filmmakers chose to tell the story in their own way, the driving questions behind the narrative remain unresolved, which reminds us in the audience that the real story and its resolution is still out here, in our real world. That’s what makes ‘The Social Network’ so damn rich.
Other critics have compared it to ‘Rashomon’ and ‘Citizen Kane’, through its use of multiple perspectives on events and enigmatic persons. It’s a great deal more subtle, though, and doesn’t call attention to the shifts to each point-of-view. Being kept so ambiguous, it opens the film to endless questions, which will of course lead to bigger inquiries about ethics. I heard such discussions taking place immediately after I stepped out of the theater. That, to me, is why ‘The Social Network’ is a significant film. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for all the time at The Silver Mirror; films that provoke infinite reflections. It is proof that the human journey carries on. I’m thinking ‘The Social Network’ will win Best Picture.