When I first heard that David Fincher would be directing a film about the formation of Facebook, my initial response, as was likely the same response from many others, was one of befuddlement. Why would this exquisitely talented filmmaker spend his time telling a story about a relatively young social media empire? What’s so cinematic about that? In conjunction with Aaron Sorkin’s razor-sharp and dialogue-heavy screenplay, Fincher ended up crafting one of the strongest films of his career, and while not as deep or as emotionally shattering as Seven, or as detail-obsessed as Zodiac or as trendsetting as Fight Club, there’s a timeless aspect to The Social Network that encourages repeat viewings. The film also continued Fincher’s obsession with finding the absolute perfect shade of the color brown, as his visual palette became even more desaturated and icy in this film, thanks to the pin-point precision of Jeff Cronenweth’s foreboding cinematography that stressed shadows and low-lit interiors. All of the ego-driven and brilliant characters on display operate with a sense of emotional iciness which must’ve appealed to Fincher’s dark cinematic heart, while Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue contains sardonic wit as well as hyper-intelligence to match its subjects.
This is the role that Jessie Eisenberg will always be remembered for, Andrew Garfield projected empathy and stupidity at the same time, and Armie Hammer did a superb job in a double performance which consistently steals the show. The ominous and suspenseful musical score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is a sonic delight, punctuating nearly every single scene with sinister energy, and was in perfect tandem with the slippery-smooth editing patterns set by Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter. A box-office hit and critical darling, The Social Network was nominated for eight Oscars, winning three, but not Picture or Director. Which is ludicrous. Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen this film a helluva lot more times than The King’s Speech. This was the film, along with Zodiac, where I really started to notice how Fincher was becoming his generation’s Alan J. Pakula: Seven was his Klute; The Game was his Parallax View; Zodiac/Social Network are his All the President’s Men; Gone Girl was his Presumed Innocent; Benjamin Button was his Sophie’s Choice; Dragon Tattoo was his Dream Lover. I’m probably stretching a bit, but I think the similarities between the two filmmakers are apparent in both aesthetics and themes, despite them working in very different eras of storytelling.