I love how Justin Chang‘s Variety review of The Social Network — a rave — notes that “the mile-a-minute line delivery recall[s] the verbally dexterous comedies of Howard Hawks and Paddy Chayefsky.” On 9.18 I wrote that “the high-throttle dialogue in David Fincher‘s film is “like His Girl Friday on Adderall,” and “spoken with the same rapidity that Ken Russell chose for 1980’s Altered States,” which was written by Chayefsky.
Some Chang tidbits:
“Moving like a speedboat across two hours of near-nonstop talk, scribe Aaron Sorkin‘s blow-by-blow deconstruction of how Harvard computer whiz Mark Zuckerberg (and friends) stumbled on a multibillion-dollar phenomenon continues Fincher’s fascinating transition from genre filmmaker extraordinaire to indelible chronicler of our times.
“To those who initially scoffed at the notion of anyone, much less the director of Seven and Fight Club, making an interesting film about the internet’s most ubiquitous social-networking site, Fincher has delivered a terrifically entertaining rejoinder…it’s great to see the director engaging the zeitgeist in a film that offers the old-school satisfactions of whip-smart dialogue, meaty characterizations and an unflagging sense of momentum.
“Sorkin’s most significant adjustment [to the source material] is to provide Jessie Eisenberg‘s Mark Zuckerberg with a fictional girlfriend and, thus, a very human motive for the actions that eventually spawned Facebook. The five-minute opening sequence, a brilliantly sustained volley of insults between Mark and Elaine (Rooney Mara) that ends with the former getting dumped, establishes the film’s style.
“Fincher’s direction is a model of coherence and discipline, relying on the traditional virtues of camera placement and editing to tell the story, and never resorting to any of the stylistic gimmicks the subject matter would seem to invite; Facebook itself is shown fleetingly, a decision consistent with the film’s suspicious attitude toward the whole enterprise. Helmer proves more attentive to nuances of Ivy League culture, in which students must reconcile the pressure to fit in with the drive to get ahead, as well as the irony of the socially inept Mark (‘This guy doesn’t have three friends to rub together,’ someone notes) somehow masterminding the world’s biggest online gathering.
“More than anything else, The Social Network is a feast of great talk — scintillating propositions, withering put-downs, improbably witty comebacks — and as such, it doesn’t always know when to quit. But the film is rescued from archness by the humanity of its principals, whom Fincher refuses to exalt or demonize.”
“Still, it’s Eisenberg’s picture. The young actor’s nebbishy persona found a consummate vessel in the role of Mark, and his bone-dry sarcasm lends almost every moment a tetchy, unpredictable comic energy. A shifty-eyed creep whose motives can’t be reduced to a simple yearning for fame and fortune, Mark may be an ‘asshole,’ as he’s called throughout, but as Eisenberg beautifully displays in his rare tongue-tied moments, he’s not entirely without conscience.”