The Social Network
dir David Fincher
scr Aaron Sorkin
prd Dana Brunetti, Cean Chaffin, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
with Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Max Minghella, Armie Hammer, Josh Pence, Rooney Mara, Rashida Jones, Joseph Mazzello, Patrick Mapel, Denise Grayson, Wallace Langham
release US 1.Oct.10, UK 15.Oct.10
10/US Columbia 2h01
The Social Network
Revenge of the nerds: Timberlake and Eisenberg

garfield minghella mara
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The Social Network The story of Facebook is given a dramatic twist by the combination of Sorkin's brainy script and Fincher's brawny direction. What emerges is the tale of a computer nerd who only understands relationships if they're online.

While at Harvard in 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) and his best pal Eduardo Saverin (Garfield) came up with the concept of linking the students in a virtual network that honed the concept of MySpace into something more personal. The problem is that it springs from a project Mark is working on for beefy twin rowers (Pence and Hammer) and their techie pal (Minghella), who immediately launch a legal battle against Facebook. Later, Mark links up with slick Napster founder Sean Parker (Timberlake) to push the site further, but he loses Eduardo in the process.

The chronological narrative is broken up by scenes from the legal encounters relating to the two lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg, and this gives the film its sense of dramatic momentum. But these legal skirmishes are red herrings; this is actually a story about relationships that go horribly wrong, most notably the friendship between Mark and Eduardo. And from the first scene to the last, the central point is that Mark simply can't make any relationship work.

While the irony of this is a little over-the-top, it's very nicely underplayed by the whole cast. Eisenberg is terrific in the film's most thankless role, but he never overeggs the performance, so Mark comes across sympathetically as a complex genius with a severe blind spot. He gained the world but lost his soul, as it were. Garfield gets a more emotional role and delivers an excellent turn that gives the film its heart. And Timberlake is also superb, never chomping on scenery in the flashiest role.

Of course, Sorkin's boyish script is snappy and almost too sharp, packed with hilarious jokes and intelligent conversations. It's great to see another big Hollywood movie this year (after Inception) that actually stimulates our minds for a change. While it sometimes feels a bit dense, it's also a thoroughly gripping look at the fallout of relational dysfunction. And we can all identify with it, whether or not we're a computer nerd.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 27.Sep.10

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