After the trailer for The Social Network premiered, which included an attention-getting musical intro, anticipation for David Fincher’s The Social Network was intense. Critics were tripping over themselves to praise the film when it hit the festival circuit.
In case you haven’t heard, The Social Network is about the creation of facebook and the battle for founding credentials between founder Mark Zuckerberg–and anyone who gets in his way. Dialogue ricochets off the walls (the first scene recalls Gilmore Girls, unfortunately), characters make impassioned proclamations, and Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) smirks smugly.
The underlying problem with The Social Network is that it leaves you asking, “Who gives a shit?” The shadiness of Mark Zuckerberg and the formation story of facebook have been well chronicled over the last year, in articles exposing intellectual property theft, hacking, and breaches of privacy.
Even if you go into The Social Network unaware of these controversies, the film fails to escape the clutches of a paint-by-numbers formula, feeling more like a Wikipedia entry than a narrative tale. It slogs through the events of facebook’s founding like a biopic/historical piece that lacks any of the life found in films like Good Night and Good Luck or Tora! Tora! Tora! Early reviews cite the film’s themes of friendship and betrayal, trumpeting the film as one of the best of the year. I call shenanigans. The lack of strong themes and the presence of too many perspectives are precisely what kills the film.
Fincher is quite adept at directing, with dynamic shot composition and a subtle lighting, or rather, lack thereof. But Fincher’s tools aren’t adequate to resuscitate this cardboard beast.