October 04, 2010

Granted, Fincher sets such a forced march that only the upper quarter or so of the audience will have any hope of making sense of it. I saw it in the working class suburb of Van Nuys, where the normally polite Mexican teens became loudly bored by the convoluted machinations over which rich Harvard brainiacs will get even richer.

You can”€™t really blame them. The Social Network eschews most of the documentary-derived tricks that feature filmmakers have adopted in recent years. Fincher certainly has the visual technique to help us understand, but he seems chained down by Sorkin’s bravura confidence that he can make everything clear solely through stagey dialogue.

Jesse Eisenberg, who was so annoying yet likeable in The Squid and the Whale and Adventureland, plays Zuckerberg with an implausible look of suspicious hostility plastered on his face, as if he were a surly extra in Idiocracy.

There’s much debate in the press about how realistically the film portrays the tycoon. The obvious answer is that Sorkin is projecting onto Zuckerberg his own (perhaps not wholly undeserved) self-loathing over sex, drugs, and ethnicity.

In Sorkin’s imagination, Silicon Valley looks like Jim Morrison’s Laurel Canyon in 1969, with barely legal stoned groupies swarming over the nerds. (The reality is that Zuckerberg has had the same unspectacular girlfriend, to whom he appears devoted, since he started Facebook. Monogamy is a huge time-saver.)

Almost as bizarrely, Sorkin portrays Jews at Harvard in 2003 as pushy outsiders desperate to break out of the ghetto of the one Jewish fraternity and into the WASPy “€œFinal Clubs”€ populated by carefully bred ubermen, such as the Winkelvoss twins, the stars of the crew team.

When the Winkelvosses debate whether a true Harvard gentleman would sue Zuckerberg for copying their idea of a Harvard-only dating site, one points out the feasibility of giving him an old-time thrashing: “€œI”€™m 6″€™5″€, 220 pounds, and there’s two of me!”€ Ironically, the actor who plays both Winkelvii, Armie Hammer, is the grandson of, yes, Armand Hammer, that favorite capitalist of both V.I. Lenin and R.M. Nixon. Now, there’s a scoundrel worthy of all this movie talent!


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