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THE SOCIAL NETWORK

The flick about the geek who brought us Facebook, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, opened big--and stayed big--at the box office. To see if your favorite critics were friends or foes of "The Social Network," browse the roundup below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara, Max Minghella, Armie Hammer, Joseph Mazzello, Bryan Barter, David Selby (Directed by David Fincher; Written by Aaron Sorkin; Columbia)

“‘The Social Network,’ directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, rushes through a coruscating series of exhilarations and desolations, triumphs and betrayals, and ends with what feels like darkness closing in on an isolated soul. This brilliantly entertaining and emotionally wrenching movie is built around a melancholy paradox: in 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), a nineteen-year-old Harvard sophomore, invents Facebook and eventually creates a five-hundred-million-strong network of ‘friends,’ but Zuckerberg is so egotistical, work-obsessed, and withdrawn that he can’t stay close to anyone...From the first scene to the last, ‘The Social Network’ hints at a psychological shift produced by the Information Age, a new impersonality that affects almost everyone. After all, Facebook, like Zuckerberg, is a paradox: a Web site that celebrates the aura of intimacy while providing the relief of distance.” --DAVID DENBY, The New Yorker

“The history of how Facebook spread from a dorm room in Cambridge to 500 million customers who have lost the ability to communicate without pushing buttons is a subject I find only slightly less appealing than the outbreak of a cholera epidemic. It is therefore much to the credit of a meticulous screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin (‘A Few Good Men’), and a first-rate director, David Fincher (‘Seven,’ ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’), that this film transcends its trendy, obvious limitations with enough vitality and vitriol to make it as informative and breathless as it is entertaining. I have to admit it's a movie I surrendered to with trepidation and ended up liking in spite of myself.” --REX REED, The New York Observer

“The briefest summary of this fast, caustic, super-brainy entertainment is that Zuckerberg, then a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard College, was a brilliant, prickly loner—‘He doesn't have three friends to rub together,’ a rival says—who created a website that gave him, at last count, 500 million friends. Zuckerberg can be seen as a disabled hero, like a legless man who invents a better wheelchair, or a tragically flawed king, like Superman with a Kryptonite chip embedded in his brain. Either way, the film says, geniuses are abnormal. The obsessive focus that these blessed, cursed minds bring to their goals often excludes social peripheral vision. They don't notice, or care about, the little people in their way. Zuckerberg, incarnated by Jesse Eisenberg (‘The Squid and the Whale,’ ‘Zombieland’) with a single-mindedness so cool as to be lunar, isn't inhuman, exactly; more post-human, a series of calculating algorithms. He is his own computer code — complex, and to most of those who know him, unfathomable.”  --RICHARD CORLISS, Time Magazine

“‘The Social Network’ glamorizes a new paradigm: How the Internet’s basic disconnect characterizes contemporary public discourse...The scene where pre-billions Zuckerberg takes revenge on the girlfriend he’s neglected by leaping to his computer and then writing and transmitting a blog that defames her physical person, intelligence and family heritage comes across as a frighteningly casual presentation of the self-righteous hostility that has become Internet etiquette...It derives from Zuckerberg’s viciousness and nearly autistic social detachment—an immaturity that infects the Internet but here is looked at uncritically. Fincher’s indifference and Sorkin’s calm about Zuckerman’s malediction is an early indication of the film’s failure. ‘The Social Network’ glibly accepts Zuckerberg’s selfishness as entertaining and nerd-cool—even when Zuckerberg allegedly betrays his Harvard university colleagues, cheating them out of a fortune. If it is true that 'The Social Network' defines the decade, as an ad blurb states, then that’s just an accident of its shortcomings. We need to look deeper: It inadvertently defines an era when subterfuge and reprehensible behavior are accepted as a social norm—especially if it proves lucrative...In ‘The Social Network,’ creepiness is heroized." –ARMOND WHITE, New York Press

“Watching ‘The Social Network’ is like getting a runner's high without a treadmill or sweat. This account of Facebook's founder, and of the website's explosive growth, quickly lifts you to a state of exhilaration, and pretty much keeps you there for two hours...David Fincher's film is devastating as biography—an unfriending of epic proportions—and dazzling as contemporary cultural history... On screen, the Harvard undergraduate who became the world's youngest billionaire is the most anti of antiheroes since Travis Bickle.” –JOE MORGENSTERN, The Wall Street Journal

“Who is Mark Zuckerberg, really? More important, what does modern intimacy mean, if you can have hundreds of ‘friends’ you’ve never met? What’s the line between person and ‘persona,’ if you can now re-create yourself to suit a site? They are the questions that, for better or worse, are going to define communications for the next few decades. And the ultimate irony is that we’re only asking them now because of one Harvard student who never learned to communicate with anyone to begin with.” –STEPHEN WHITTY, The Star-Ledger

“Fincher and his screenwriter, TV writer-god Aaron Sorkin, have made a seemingly modest picture that achieves something close to greatness the old-fashioned, slow-burning way: By telling a story with faces, dialogue and body language of all types, from awkward to swaggering. It also does the unthinkable: In a climate where many of us feel compelled to advertise our ever-changing moods, our hopefully not-so-ever-changing relationship status, our ‘what we’re up to now’ scheduling minutiae, ‘The Social Network’ slows down the clock, just for the space of a few hours, to ask, ‘Why?’... In the first 10 minutes of his movie, Fincher shoots down the conventional wisdom that nerds and geeks are all really nice guys, just aching for a girl to give them a chance. Zuckerberg is, as Erica puts it plainly in the movie’s first scene, an asshole, and through the course of the movie he will be nothing but...I can’t remember the last time I loved such a defiantly unlikable performance. Eisenberg has a nerdily angelic face — his lips are so red, they look as if he’s been sucking on cherry Popsicles. But there’s nothing sweet about this performance: In his eyes, we mostly see calculation and a businesslike reckoning of where he stands — with everyone — at any given moment... while it’s tempting to frame ‘The Social Network’ as a modern-age ‘Citizen Kane,’ what’s perhaps most remarkable about Eisenberg’s performance is how close he holds us even as he exerts almost negative charisma. He’s no Orson Welles. So why is it you can’t take your eyes off him?” --STEPHANIE ZACHAREK, Movieline

“In ‘The Social Network,’ the thrillingly intense, enjoyable, and resonant new drama about the founding of Facebook, [Jesse] Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, the brilliant, ruthless Harvard student who rejiggered the spirit of the Internet age. From the opening moments, the actor grips you with the armored force of his verbal attack. It's hard to recall the last serious movie built around a character who was this much of an intellectual scoundrel...’The Social Network’has everything you want in a thriller for the brain: huge doses of ego and duplicity, corporate backstabbing, and some very layered performances...the power of ‘The Social Network’ is that Zuckerberg is a weasel with a mission that can never be dismissed. The movie suggests that he may have built his ambivalence about human connection into Facebook's very DNA. That's what makes him a jerk-hero for our time.”  --OWEN GLEIBERMAN, Entertainment Weekly

“‘The Social Network’ is a hard-charging beast of a movie with a full tank of creative gas that keeps it humming from start to finish (hell of a middle, too). Sure, it gives you the facts about how then-Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg (a never-better Jesse Eisenberg) made billions by helping technology win the battle against actual human contact. But it's also about the nation of narcissists we've become, reshaping who we are on Facebook in the hope of being friended by other users who may or may not be lying their asses off. Bracingly smart, brutally funny and acted to perfection without exception, ‘The Social Network’ lights up a dim movie sky with flares of startling brilliance.” --PETER TRAVERS, Rolling Stone

“The movie zips along at a quick pace, with caffeinated dialogue. Still, things get dull in the third act during the inevitable crash, as Zuckerberg's legal and social headaches stack up. Plus, we never learn much about the 26-year-old billionaire (he didn't cooperate with the movie and has called it ‘fiction’) other than he was rejected, it hurt, and his pain spawned the virtual playground of a generation.” –THELMA ADAMS, Us Magazine

“Smartly written by Aaron Sorkin, directed to within an inch of its life by David Fincher and anchored by a perfectly pitched performance by Jesse Eisenberg, ‘The Social Network’ is a barn-burner of a tale that unfolds at a splendid clip...Presented with an involving central character cold enough to suit his chilly but considerable filmmaking talents, the director does his best work, convincingly presenting a story about conflicts over intellectual property as if it were a fast-paced James Bond thriller.”
--KENNETH TURAN, The Los Angeles Times

"’The Social Network’ has as its protagonist a character drawn in a Shakespearean mode, a high-achieving individual who carries within him the seeds of his own destruction. This would, of course, be young Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), the man behind the social-network phenomenon Facebook...a mesmerizing portrait of a man who in any other age would perhaps be deemed nuts or useless, but in the Internet age has this mental agility to transform an idea into an empire. Yet he still cannot rule his own life to the point he doesn't lose what's important to him...a must-see.”  --KIRK HONEYCUTT, The Hollywood Reporter

“A very modern story inspires a classic study in ego, greed and the slippery nature of American enterprise in ‘The Social Network,’ David Fincher's penetrating account of the accidental founding of Facebook. 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.” --JUSTIN CHANG, Variety

“It’s an entertainingly cynical small movie. Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue tumbles out so fast it’s as if the characters want their brains to keep pace with their processors; they talk like they keyboard, like Fincher directs, with no time for niceties...Fincher’s direction is so cool and depersonalizing that the story has no emotional heft. Zuckerberg’s Wasp adversaries are cartoon boobs. More than once, the camera scrutinizes young women from behind, appraising them as the movie’s horny young voyeurs do. The Trent Reznor–Atticus Ross score is in some Eno-airport no-man’s-land of its own. Every¬thing is disconnected from the get-go—there’s no humanity to lose... Eisenberg has been, until now, a hugely likable actor with an instinct for thinking and fumbling in character. As Zuckerberg, he’s been whipped into monotony. Fincher directs like a drill sergeant—Mamet with an overwound metronome. The only actor here allowed to give a fully rounded performance is Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder Sean Parker.” --DAVID EDELSTEIN, New York Magazine

“‘This is our time!,’ Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker exults to Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg by way of welcoming the Harvard Facebook creator to Silicon Valley, and the same thing can be said by everyone who had anything to do with ‘The Social Network;’ David Fincher can make five more masterpieces, Aaron Sorkin can win an Oscar, Tony and 20 more Emmys; Timberlake, Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Mara Rooney can all be big stars for the next half-century, but it will rarely be as sweet as this, a film where not only does everything come together in a way that the whole is even bigger than the sum of its brilliant parts, but where the result so resonantly reflects the time in which it was made.” –TODD McCARTHY, Deep Focus

“It's astonishing that a movie mostly set in front of computer screens and in deposition rooms, a movie where the end is already known, has the hold of a suspense film. Fincher and Sorkin tell us what happened. But they involve us, deeply, in figuring out the why...The story of the two nerds who build Facebook so they can meet girls soon becomes a triangle where the earnest Eduardo and the slithery Internet entrepreneur Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake, sensational as a Silicon Valley snake) are rivals for Mark.” –CARRIE RICKEY, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"‘The Social Network’ is a warts-and-all celebration of visionary capitalism and of the moxie required to realize the vision. Mark [Zuckerberg] is both the unlikeliest and likeliest of heroes–-or, more precisely, antiheroes–-for our time. He's a wolf in geek's clothing. The problem is, the geek in question, at least as Jesse Eisenberg plays him, doesn't have the emotional expansiveness to fill out a movie. Perhaps sensing this, the filmmakers play out the story line from multiple points of view and crowd the stage with a pageant of voluble supporting characters. At times, Mark seems like a bit actor in his own fantasia, and although this dramatic ploy is no doubt intentional, it makes for a rather unwieldy (and overlong) odyssey...The filmmakers trumpet the irony that an essentially friendless dweeb–- the ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ they created for this movie–-founded the world's preeminent aggregator of friends (or, to be more exact, ‘friends’). But why is this such a surprise? If Mark had a raft of real friends he probably would not have felt the need (or had the time) to create a social-network engine. The virtuality of his life gave rise to the reality of Facebook.” --PETER RAINER, The Christian Science Monitor

“In an age when movie dialogue is dumbed and slowed down to suit slow-wits in the audience, the dialogue here has the velocity and snap of screwball comedy. Eisenberg, who has specialized in playing nice or clueless, is a heat-seeking missile in search of his own goals. Timberlake pulls off the tricky assignment of playing Sean Parker as both a hot shot and someone who engages Zuckerberg as an intellectual equal. Andrew Garfield evokes an honest friend who is not the right man to be CFO of the company that took off without him, but deserves sympathy. ’The Social Network’ is a great film not because of its dazzling style or visual cleverness, but because it is splendidly well-made. Despite the baffling complications of computer programming, web strategy and big finance, Aaron Sorkin's screenplay makes it all clear, and we don't follow the story so much as get dragged along behind it.” --ROGER EBERT, Chicago Sun-Times

“When a talky movie's talk has been written by Aaron Sorkin (‘The West Wing’), and those words have been animated by the visual brio of director David Fincher, what looks on paper like a static series of dead-end conversations comes to life as a vital, engaging, even urgent parable for our age...With surgical precision, exhilarating insight and considerable storytelling flair, they [Sorkin and Fincher] make Zuckerberg both a metaphor and a lens through which to understand contemporary culture...Eisenberg delivers a deceivingly accomplished performance in the tricky role of Zuckerberg, whose recessive, withholding persona is completely at odds with the larger-than-life charisma such characters usually demand. Within an ensemble that includes Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg's erstwhile partner Eduardo Saverin, Josh Pence and Armie Hammer as the brothers who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea (and who, ahem, row crew) and Justin Timberlake as the Mephistophelian Sean Parker, Eisenberg manages to make his nerdy protagonist the most interesting guy in the room, even at his most awkward and antisocial.” –ANN HORNADAY, The Washington Post

“When Mr. Eisenberg makes Mark’s face go blank, the character seems scarily emptied out: it’s a subtly great, at times unsettling, performance ...The conspicuous paradox that ‘The Social Network’ plays with is that the world’s most popular social networking Web site was created by a man with excruciatingly, almost pathologically poor, people skills. The benign view of Facebook is that it creates ‘a community,’ a sense of intimacy, which is of course one reason it also creeps out some of its critics...The movie opens with a couple in a crowded college bar and ends with a man alone in a room repeatedly hitting refresh on his laptop. In between, Mr. Fincher and Mr. Sorkin offer up a creation story for the digital age and something of a morality tale, one driven by desire, marked by triumph, tainted by betrayal and inspired by the new gospel: the geek shall inherit the earth.” –MANOHLA DARGIS, The New York Times

“We are too close to the history that gets fictionalized in ‘The Social Network’ to grasp its significance, especially in an age when the distinction between the momentous and the ephemeral has evaporated...It's an energetic and straightforward work of American pop storytelling, a soapy, gossipy tale of young people behaving badly and class-based infighting at America's most elite university...As played by Jesse Eisenberg in the movie, Harvard sophomore Zuckerberg is a thoroughly unpleasant boy-genius who seems to suffer from a combination of tetanus, an autism-spectrum disorder and a slow-acting intestinal poison...All I can say about [Justin] Timberlake's performance as the thoroughly odious, desperately seductive, textbook-case metrosexual Parker is that he brings so much reptilian fun that he unbalances the movie, almost fatally.” –ANDREW O’HEHIR, Salon.com

“It’s a grandly entertaining reminder of everything we used to go to the movies for (and still can’t get online): sparkling dialogue, thorny situations, soulful performances, and an unusually open-ended and relevant engagement with a major social issue of the day: how we (dis)connect. Forget about damage control—if I were billionaire site exec Mark Zuckerberg, I’d be down on my knees in gratitude for an origin story this brainy, suggestive and, yes, flattering...here, too, is a Fincher first: his most alluring, full-bodied lead performance, via the beautifully arrogant Eisenberg.” --JOSHUA ROTHKOPF, Time Out New York

“As written by Sorkin and played by Jesse Eisenberg, Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg is a character far more compelling than his story. Insensitive, paranoid, humorless, and implacably driven, Zuckerberg may not be the year’s most irritatingly arrogant cine sad sack, but he is the most formidable...A sort of mildly autistic Sammy Glick with a grim 1,000-yard glare, Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as the dog in the manger, keeping the audience at arm’s length while ferociously guarding his screen space against all comers.” --J. HOBERMAN, The Village Voice

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