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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Eisenberg's performance in 'Network' is like-worthy

Social Network Timberlake Eisenberg

Eisenberg's performance in 'Network' is like-worthy

Near the end of ""The Social Network,"" Mark Zuckerberg's lawyer tells him she doesn't think he's a bad guy, saying ""every creation myth has a villain."" While the quote may apply to a slightly holier book than Facebook, David Fincher's new film might as well be the New Testament for the web generation; the details of Facebook's creation may be built on folklore and legend, but it still makes for a damn good morality tale, especially when told by gifted storytellers like Fincher and Aaron Sorkin.

""The Social Network"" may be concerned with Facebook's origins, but the film primarily functions as a Mark Zuckerberg biopic. From the opening scene featuring Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his then-girlfriend in a bar to the closing shot of him alone with his laptop, ""The Social Network"" aims to give audiences an inner look at Zuckerberg and his numerous flaws. In the opening scene he runs intellectual circles around his girlfriend, berates her for doubting his chances at being invited to one of Harvard's elite secret societies, and mocks the fact that she attends Boston University. Then, when she dumps him, he blogs about her tiny tits and hacks the Harvard web servers to make a ""hot or not"" knockoff called Facemash that lands him on academic probation, all in the first 15 minutes.

From there, Zuckerberg begins work on Facebook with his friend and Facemash co-conspirator Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) after ripping the idea off from his classmates, the Winklevoss twins (both portrayed by Armie Hammer thanks to some nifty editing). From there the money and fame begin to accumulate, Napster founder and Silicon Valley bad boy Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) shows up and ""The Social Network"" surges forward, propelled by the unstoppable viral nature of the web.

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Nearly every single performance in ""The Social Network"" is outstanding. Eisenberg's portrayal of the world's youngest billionaire has Oscar written all over it. He's able to communicate Zuckerberg's every emotion with the slightest facial tic, dispelling detractors who have labelled him as Michael Cera Lite. His quiet solitude shows audiences that even though Zuckerberg may be the king of the world's preeminent social network, in the end he stands alone, the Charles Foster Kane of the web generation. Garfield gives a breakout performance as well; given his tech wizardry in ""The Social Network"" and his casting as Peter Parker in the upcoming ""Spider-man"" reboot, he brings dual meaning to the word ""webmaster."" Timberlake nearly upstages both of them as the hard-partying web celeb, living the kind of lavish lifestyle usually reserved for internationally renowned popstars.

""The Social Network"" is technically sound as well. Aaron Sorkin's brilliant overlapping dialogue creates a sense of breathless urgency, as the characters struggle to market Facebook to the mainstream while maintaining its exclusivity. Fincher's delicate and understated shot composition is gorgeous as usual, and is comparable to his similarly stellar cinematography in ""Se7en"" and ""Fight Club."" Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross create a dark, grinding soundtrack that is pitch-perfect. Even though it often seemingly stands in contrast to the mood of the scene it's in, the thumping electric symphony conveys the dark subtext of every tense conversation and prolonged stare.

In all, ""The Social Network"" succeeds where others have failed, creating a dynamic, character-driven film based on a website. Until Hollywood greenlights ""YouTube: The movie"" or William Shatner's ""$#*! My Dad Says"" exhibits a remarkable improvement in quality, ""The Social Network"" stands alone as the ""Citizen Kane"" of the new millennium.

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