The Social Network

Everyone else appears to have had their say, so I might as well add one.  May sound as if I’m courting controversy or heresy merely for the sake of it.  I’m not.

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“It was a good story,” I heard a passer by say of The Social Network as I walked down the street.

Was it?  I questioned in my head.  Despite the raft of gushing about it I hadn’t actually questioned whether or not it was a good story.  Now I did.

Brilliant nerdy techie bloke invests a massively popular website.  Two posh kids get all huffy because they think their idea was stolen.  Legal shit happens.  What else happens of any import?  Friends fall out.  Boo bloody hoo.

If it had explored in more depth how culturally significant the website was, how generation-defining it had become, how habitually integrated it was: ok, forgiven.  This was only alluded to though, through central characters I didn’t care much for.

Not caring was the crux of my disappointment.  The Social Network made me feel nothing.  A good handful of strong, chucklesome one-liners aside, it failed to emote anything at all for me.  It rippled its pecs and batted its eyelids, self consciously preening at how whipsmart and stylish it was.  The film was sort of embodied for me in Justin Timberlake’s character.

Did I care about any of it?  I wanted to but no, I didn’t.  I could appreciate the script was tight and dizzingly fast at points – unrealistically so given the stammering, faltering nature of the real-life Facebook CEO, Zuckerberg.  But where this clever fast pace was forgivable in a film like Juno because it has such a massive heart, here it seemed empty and directionless, without any real message.

I can watch a dumbass flick without any “deep” message providing it entertains and there some familiar linear narrative of interest.  Here though, the whole thing was built on this lavish Harvard style and the LOOK AT ME culture, knowing winks and nods aplenty.

Did it make me happy, sad or hysterical?  Did I learn anything significant?  Was it a good story?  None of the above.  Yet conversely I wasn’t ever bored and was reasonably compelled throughout – in the main because of aforementioned script and excellent performances.

When the credits rolled I didn’t know what to take away.  Nothing in the film was anywhere near as staggering as the music featured in an early trailer, that choral reworking of Radiohead’s outsider anthem, “Creep.”

 

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