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Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Social Network (A Late-To-The-Party Review)

I live online. I spend a good 40% of my day on Twitter, or some other social network. The term "social network" is a broad one. It could mean anything from 'online society' to 'tribe in the jungle'. There's a lot of them out there too, online. We all use them... But it's not all pokes and @'s. There's a story to tell behind the biggest of the social network monsters. And that story - be it completely true or not - has been told. 

David Fincher's film The Social Network tells the story behind the roots of Facebook. Focusing on the people who may or may not have had a direct hand in the creation of the online monster it is a classic "trust exercise" movie in the vein of Primer. Only this one is at least part-true.

It's not all straightforward business dealing. In fact, none of it is. Facebook began as a hobby - or a test - and became a billion dollar industry all of its own. Fincher's film tells the story of the people behind it and how their downfall meant very little to them since they'd already made enough money to buy you, me and every other person reading this review ten times over. And I guarantee that when you watch the movie, as you all should because it is an exceptional piece of cinema, you'll be a little more thoughtful about how and why you use social networking sites. This is something of a cautionary tale for us web-dwellers - albeit a well-hidden one. I could write for hours about this movie, but I won't. I won't tell you that the cinematography is some of the best I've ever seen, or that the cast are outstanding - even Justin Timberlake, or that every second of the movie feels like you're waiting for someone to fall over - the type of anticipation you never want to feel, but love to feel when you do. 

It's a truly fascinating and somewhat understated slice of film that offers enough fact to make it interesting and enough fiction to make it exciting. It shows how an idea can become so much more. And how, if handled irresponsibly, that idea can eat us up... I didn't move throughout this film - except to update my Twitter feed (ironic or what?). I'd watch it again tomorrow. A real modern classic. This will be watched in the future as All The President's Men is watched today - a fictionalised slice of modern history. And when a website is considered History, even by a humble blogger like myself, then you really know it's the future.