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The Social Network

Before the movie The Social Network began to get buzz in Hollywood ahead of its theatrical release, I’d never thought much about the kind of person/personality behind a site like Facebook. Once the movie began to generate the aforementioned buzz, it crossed my mind that this person would be someone most people wouldn’t “like.” Most geniuses, especially those of the computer/technical variety, don’t do well with social interaction for one of two reasons (usually): either they are shy or they are megalomaniacal. Due in large part to the previews, I assumed Mark Zukerberg to be the latter.

Only, the way the movie portrayed Mark Zukerberg was (thankfully) more layered than I’d expected. At the core, his motives were universal to teens/college students–to be cool, be accepted, to fit in with an exclusive crowd. He wanted to have the three P’s–power, popularity, and praise. To a much lesser extent, he wanted money.

When I watch a movie, five things stick out to me: character, plot, setting, cinematography (what little I know about it), and the all important one liners/dialogue. Here’s my take five for The Social Network.

Characters: The Mark Zuckerberg character was classic–bored computer genius with a dash of biting sarcasm, dying to be popular but not wanting to let it show; obsessed with being cool; socially inept (to the point of rudeness). The speech pattern that the actor gave him was spot on to most of the tech people I talk to. Not only did he have the “geek speech pattern” down, he also had the mannerisms down. Indeed, most of the “geeks” did a good job portraying this college subset.

Edouardo was played very well. I think the actor did a great job of escalating Edouardo’s feelings of being shut off and made his motivations clear, so it didn’t seem he was overplaying the part when he got angry.

The Shaun Parker character was pretty well acted as well. JT made me forget he was JT. 

Lastly, the twins were hilarious. Every time the twins were onscreen, I laughed about something.

 Plot: First of all, let me start with the “bad.” The love angle was WEAK. I’m sorry, I don’t believe it. It wasn’t that the acting was bad or anything; it just didn’t make sense. Whether it’s true or not, I just don’t buy it. Also, the way they portrayed Zuckerberg discovering the need for a relationship status could have been cut. It was just silly. The timeline was murky. I had thefacebook very early, and I had tagging well before the time I think it was when they mentioned it in the movie. I almost wanted a little date to show up on the bottom in parts. I know the pacing was set to convey the whirlwind of the phenomena, but help me keep up with the timeline. Lastly, I didn’t like how they wrapped up action of the movie. I was dissatisfied with the last exchange between Zuckerberg and the person he was talking to. It went too fast, wrapped things up to quickly, and the last thing said to him was like hitting me over the head with something that, if I was even remotely paying attention, I would have been able to conclude on my own. We got it, already!

As for the good elements: I think the issue of intellectual property was dealt with well. They did a great job of progressing the development of the site. The explanation of the concept of facebook–to move the social experience online and have it be cool–was interesting. I liked the way they arranged the story to be told alternating between the hearings and when the events actually happened.

Setting/Cinematography: I liked the dark mood created by much of the cinematography of the story, contrasted by the almost blinding light of the hearings. The bar scene at the beginning was amazing to watch because of the contrast of what they were saying to where they were saying it. The darkness of the scenes made them feel secretive, shady, a little less than above board, while the lightness of the hearings added to the feeling of everything being dragged out into the open.

One Liners/Dialogue: I loved the “why does your status say ‘single’?” line because it was true to life (I’ve seen people having these conversations). I think one of the funniest exchanges in the movie was “Why do you keep saying I don’t have to study?” “You go to BU.” (Note: I know a few  people that went to BU, so this was doubly funny to me.) In fact, this whole opening exchange was funny. As aforementioned, the wrap up at the end, in my opinion, was a misstep. Other than that, the dialogue was spot on.

I feel about this movie the same way I feel about Inception: it was a solid movie, not exceptional in a great movie season, but when it came out, is was among the best simply because it was good. From what I hear, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, and 127 Hours by and large blows this film out of the water. It’s a good film, with strong acting, a solid plot, good cinematography, and a top notch script. I was thoroughly satisfied with my $.75 purchase (I saw this at our discount theater that has $.75 movies on Tuesdays).

My rating: ****/A