Last night I finally saw David Fincher's highly touted new film "The Social Network," and it's extraordinary. I've always been a fan of Fincher, director of "Fight Club," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and one of the great overlooked movies of the last ten years, "Zodiac." Fincher's films are usually dark, moody, intelligent, provocative, fascinating. His teaming up with Aaron Sorkin (writer of "The West Wing" and, before that, "A Few Good Men") sounded bizarre at first (dark, moody direction meets zippy, poppy dialogue) but works brilliantly. "The Social Network," as Kerry Weber notes in her online Culture review, is less about Facebook and more about morality. Here's an excerpt:
The more important questions posed by the film relate to identity and friendship. The character of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of the Web site Napster who provided advice to Zuckerberg during Facebook’s early days, contributes to Zuckerberg’s inflated ego and immediately grasps Facebook’s potential power. He describes the site as “the true digitization of your life.”
Is such a thing even possible? If so, is it desirable? The increasing popularity of Web sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow an individual to present to others a very specific version of oneself and to connect with others in new ways. But there’s something to be said for learning the name of a new friend’s favorite band, book or movie through a good old-fashioned conversation rather than by skimming an online profile.
Facebook is an innovative, game-changing, entertaining and addictive Web site, and in the barrage of status updates and messages and deciding what to “like” and whom to “friend,” it can be easy to forget that the way in which we define ourselves extends beyond the choices provided by the site’s profile options or fan pages or the number of comments on a wall.
In a world that is infinitely nuanced, Facebook’s blue-and-white homepage offers us an easily categorized world, and in that world, the word “friend” carries a very loose definition. That girl I haven’t spoken to since third grade? My mom? An ex-boyfriend? All friends on equal footing, as far as Facebook is concerned. And a list of “friends” can be pared down with the click of a mouse.
In real life, as “The Social Network” demonstrates, relationships are infinitely more complicated, and it’s these relationships that provide Fincher and Sorkin with the material for a compelling story. And while no one can claim that “The Social Network” is entirely accurate, it does try to capture a greater truth through its commentary on friendship and betrayal, ambition and identity. It raises the question: How much of your real life social network are you willing to risk in the name of money, fame or success?
Read the rest of her review here. Then go see this fantastic movie.