David Fincher's "The Social Network" was heralded upon release as "generation-defining," but what exactly is that definition saying about our agegroup, its ambition, and its moral aptitude? It might not be too keen on us, let's put it that way.
As it hits DVD and Blu-ray today, let's seize a chance to really look at the core of what used to be known derisively as "the Facebook movie" and is now the frontrunner for Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards.
ERICA: "I think we should just be friends."
MARK: "I don't want friends."
These lines from the film's cold opening, in which our borderline autistic computer nerd protag gets unceremoniously dumped, chiseles in stone the tone for his character: a gift for recognizing human social need and exploiting it, despite being light years away from even wanting to fit in.
But Mark Zuckerberg (the character in this movie, let alone the actual human person guy) is not easily locked into a nutshell, and over the course of a narrative in which the Harvard student co-founds Facebook, betrays his co-founder/only friend Eduardo Saverin, and becomes the world's youngest billionaire, our multifaceted hero never seems interested in any conventional concept of success.
Indeed, Mark's far more enraptured with shaking up established order, be it through ranking all the Harvard women who wouldn't give him the time of day, or becoming a virtual feudal lord over what is probably the most pervasive communication tool since the telephone.
"Eduardo, it's like a final club except we're the president."
And therein lies the rub. As played with precision by Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Zuckerberg isn't a guy looking at women or final clubs with his face pressed against the glass… he wants to kick that glass in and hold everyone inside hostage. If you don't think that's the game he's playing, try going more than a week without logging on to your Facebook page. Yeah, we knew you couldn't.
As for the film itself, Aaron Sorkin's dialogue absolutely sings, and Fincher continues to evolve away from the music video flash of his early films ("Se7en," "Fight Club") and settle into the more mature, actor-centric style he first nailed in "Zodiac." Between Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake (as Napster co-founder Sean Parker), and Armie Hammer (as BOTH snooty Winklevoss twins) there's not a sour note, but the standout actor is future-Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, whose Eduardo is one of the few clear points of sympathy in a film littered with sociopaths.
Between Mark's desire to control his social experiment, Sean Parker's desire to make bank on it, and both Eduardo and The Winklevii's lawsuits to get their piece of the pie, "The Social Network" sees ours as a generation of entitlement… and we should all file a class action suit for defamation. (Smiley face.)
Extras! The intricate network of features on the Blu-ray includes commentaries with Fincher, Sorkin and the cast, a feature length making-of doc, and a discussion with Trent Reznor on his killer score.