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Five Hearts

"You had an idea. I had a better one."

Written by Steven Walker

I dream of a world where everyone speaks with the same speed and wit as Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue.

When I first heard they were making a Facebook movie I laughed out loud.  I thought that sounded like the worst idea ever, until I read that it would be directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin.  That instantly made it my most anticipated movie of the year.

I’ve been drinking Sorkin’s kool-ade since the title card flashed on the first episode of The West Wing (Which currently ties with Lost as my favorite show ever).  I think he is one of the greatest living writers and I wish he worked more often.   Everything about The Social Network should be boring and insufferable, yet Sorkin somehow makes dreary events such as computer hacking and legal proceedings into crackling drama.

I love David Fincher overall, but he is still somewhat hit and miss.  Seven and Fight Club are classics, but I found Zodiac to be painfully slow and Benjamin Button to be curiously hollow.  Here the style and the substance have collided in an ideal way.  This movie is lean, mean, and meaningful.  It’s also remarkably simple and low-key.  I can imagine people expecting more wow-factor might come away disappointed, but I think it was a great choice to kind of underplay everything.   

Facebook has certainly been a huge part of my life for the past five years.  I think it’s a great invention whose ability to keep you connected with a diverse set of people far outweighs the myriad of problems and extra baggage it comes with.  If nothing else, I have significantly more yearly contact with distant relatives and out-of-state friends than I ever would without it.

I can’t say I ever wondered how or why Facebook came to be, but that turned out for the best because I was able to walk into this with a clean slate.  The only movie I had seen Jessie Eisenberg in before this was Zombieland, where he also played a geek, but of a very different kind.  I anticipated having a hard time forgetting the goofball persona he had in that movie.  That fear vanished about two minutes in when I realized that Eisenberg had created a very special character in Mark Zuckerberg.  His brain clearly operates in a space outside the social norm, and he interacts with other humans only because he has to, yet he yearns for the kind of social acceptance the jocks have.  Is Facebook then a desperate cry for attention or just a crazy digital ant farm?  I delight in the irony that the world’s most popular social network was the product of some profoundly anti-social behavior.    

I can see why the real Zuckerberg would want to distance himself from this portrayal, but even he has to admit that Eisenberg’s performance is captivating.  I never really knew what his motivations were and I love that neither he nor the film gives us a straight answer.  This reminds me of old Hollywood, when actors really were the stars of the show and not visual effects.

Speaking of visual effects, there is one that has to be discussed.  This effect is so flawless, so invisible, so subtle that it never even occurred to me to look for it.  If you have not seen the movie, skip to the next paragraph because you don’t want to know this going in.  I was blindsided by the Winklevoss effect.  The twins had already impressed me by being really strong characters who came out of nowhere and owned some the movie’s best scenes (especially them versus the president of Harvard).  Once I learned the truth, all their scenes take on a new level of awesome.  I want to rewatch the movie just to study this effect.  Armie Hammer is clearly an actor with a future.      

I love the way Fincher orchestrates moments of discovery and innovation.  When Mark is inspired to add one of Facebook’s defining features, relationship status, it feels like a breakthrough.  Watching him almost cry when the site goes live for the first time is a small moment that helps you sympathize with him, and it becomes tragic when you realize it may be the only moment of true happiness Mark has in the entire movie.          

I don’t remember 2003 looking nearly as rich or classical as Jeff Cronenweth’s cinematography suggests.  He somehow makes just a few short years ago feel like history; like something worthy of a time capsule.  That old-world look fueled by the very new-world score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross creates something sublime.   

This is a movie that sets in.  A movie that lingers.  A movie whose true power will be felt over time.  I have not been able to stop thinking about it.  My brain puzzles over Mark.  My heart breaks for Eduardo.  The final scene haunts me.  It suggests that true loneliness is a billionaire with no friends…and hell is endlessly pushing the refresh button, waiting for a status update that will never come.




Copyright 2008 Flaming Heart Enterprises, L.L.C.