Film viewers, in general, won’t be able to decide for themselves whether The Social Network, a film adaptation of Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal”, is constructed well until its general release to theaters on October 1st, 2010, but there is a ton riding on this film, primarily for the high profile talent that has been attached to the film.
The actors are mostly a collection of unknowns, with the exception of Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays Mark Zuckerberg, and Andrew Garfield, who plays Eduardo Severin in the film, because he was recently cast as the new Peter Parker/Spider Man in Spider Man 4. Beyond those two, the real creative heavyweights in this production are all behind the camera.
They include director David Fincher, who has reached a venerable cult status that few directors every reach, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, whose writing skills and efforts are legendary among the majority of screenwriters out there, and soundtrack composer Trent Reznor, who has effectively become the most important musician in the world. The involvement of these three has raised expectations very high for this film, which of course is a recipe for a classic film, or a potential cataclysmic career collapse. Lets not forget that Kevin Spacey (a former Fincher collaborator in SE7EN) is executive producing, after producing an earlier Mezrich highly exaggerated tale, “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions”, which resulted in 2008’s moderately successful film 21. I’ve read Mezrich’s book, and quite honestly, I’m not entirely convinced that there was much there for Fincher and Sorkin to work with. It will be interesting to see if Sorkin was able to shape the screenplay into something that makes a grander statement about the nature of friendship, social networks, and us, beyond the exaggerated tale of Harvard clubs, and the privileged and rich kids who wanted to be part of them.
For Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network represents an opportunity to reclaim the popular success that has eluded him since he stepped away from The West Wing in 2003, and has since recovered from a cocaine addiction. Sorkin’s career broke wide open when a play he had written and adapted for the screen, A Few Good Men, became a popular and critical success. He his career has been mostly up and down since he left The West Wing. A run at a new series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip resulted in a cancellation after just one season. His efforts with his previous film screenplay, Charlie Wilson’s War, was met with modest approval by critics and the populace, but the film only made 44 million dollars more than their initial budget of 75 million dollars, so the film could be considered a success, but it was not quite the success that fans of Aaron Sorkin’s work expected. The Social Network is rumored to have a more modest budget of 47 million, and carries with it a larger buzz than did Charlie Wilson’s War, so the potential is there that this film will succeed far more wildly, but if it doesn’t, this may be the last multiple film writing deal at this A level of production studios that may be offered to Aaron Sorkin for awhile.
For David Fincher, it represents a chance to try to regain the cult status heat he had gathered when he directed Fight Club, The Game, and SE7EN, in the late 1990’s. While Academy members loved his adaptation of the F. Scott Fizgerald short story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the film was largely a failure with the fans who had become used to seeing Fincher create or adapt edgier stories and telling them with a distinctly darker style, as he did with Zodiac, which was a success with his fans, even if the pace was not as quick as a typical Fincher film is. This, of course, could have more to do with the fact that this was the first film created by Fincher that was filmed entirely in digital format, and could also have something to do with how the film editors he employed, cut the film. It remains to be seen if he still has the Fincher touch. Early reviews from sites like Ain’t It Cool News, who have been given the opportunity to see the film, have called it a major success. The Social Network is unlikely to suffer from either critical or popular success. With the subject matter at hand, this film has the potential of becoming Generation Y’s The Graduate, an iconic film that says more than just something about Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Severin, but a more generalized statement that could be applied to all of Generation Y. Fincher will want to keep the buzz high until he can release what is likely to be his next masterwork, the adaptation of the Stieg Larsson first novel the three novel the Millenium Saga, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. If successful, the Millenium Saga should keep Fincher working for much of the next decade creating the second and third films of the saga. If “The Social Network” fails dismally at the theater, its possible that it could make it difficult for Fincher during “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and its sequels. Success can mean quite a bit of freedom from prying studios.
The score is being provided by Trent Reznor and longtime Reznor collaborator Atticus Ross. For Trent Reznor, who recently took a step away from his Nine Inch Nails career, The Social Network represents his first effort as the composer for a film rather than a soundtrack producer, as he was on Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers and David Lynch’s Lost Highway. The Social Network is also Reznor’s first opportunity to work with Fincher, who directed Reznor’s music video “Only” in 1995, and helped catapult Reznor’s career back in 1997 when his track, “Closer to God (Precursor)” from 1994’s Closer to God EP, became the iconic song that opened SE7EN. The success of the film, and by extension, its score, will likely determine how much opportunity Reznor will have to continue his foray into film and television composition, thus allowing him greater creative freedom with his new musical project, How To Destroy Angels (of which Ross is a member), without relying on it for financial support, which relieves the necessity to tour for a proposed LP to be released by the band in 2011.
It remains to be seen if the majority of the audience that will view this film will be comprised of an older generation who just wants to know what is the story about this Facebook site, or Generation Y and X, who understand what social networking is all about, and have a mutual shared loathing for Mark Zuckerberg. Will there be any missing links in The Social Network?
Are you looking forward to the film? Is it the most important film of the year? Any intention of seeing it in the theater? Was the buzz justified?