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The Social Network Early Reviews: Suspenseful, Absorbing, Compelling, Oscar Frontrunner

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 15, 2010 at 5:57AM

Film Comment's Scott Foundas got the ball rolling a month before David Fincher's The Social Network was set to open the NYFF ("big and brash and brilliant") on September 24. And Rolling Stone's Peter Travers swiftly offered up a juicy Tweet quote: “David Fincher’s Social Network is the 1st film I’ve given **** in 2010. It’s the movie of the year that also brilliantly defines the decade.” And this week Sony screened the movie for several online folks--they invited me, but I was in Toronto and figured I'd see it Monday when I got back to L.A. Jeffrey Wells couldn't wait that long: he flew from Toronto to New York to see the film, and reported thusly:David Fincher's The Social Network (Columbia, 10.1) is Zodiac's younger, geekier, greedier brother. That means it's good, as in really good -- a movie for guys like myself and critics like Eric Kohn, Karina Longworth and Robert Koehler to savor and consider and bounce up against, and basically for smart, sophisticated audiences to savor in every cultural corner, and....can I just blurt it out? It's the strongest Best Picture contender I've seen so far this year, and in saying this I'm obviously alluding to Inception.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Film Comment's Scott Foundas got the ball rolling a month before David Fincher's The Social Network was set to open the NYFF ("big and brash and brilliant") on September 24. And Rolling Stone's Peter Travers swiftly offered up a juicy Tweet quote: “David Fincher’s Social Network is the 1st film I’ve given **** in 2010. It’s the movie of the year that also brilliantly defines the decade.” And this week Sony screened the movie for several online folks--they invited me, but I was in Toronto and figured I'd see it Monday when I got back to L.A. Jeffrey Wells couldn't wait that long: he flew from Toronto to New York to see the film, and reported thusly:

David Fincher's The Social Network (Columbia, 10.1) is Zodiac's younger, geekier, greedier brother. That means it's good, as in really good -- a movie for guys like myself and critics like Eric Kohn, Karina Longworth and Robert Koehler to savor and consider and bounce up against, and basically for smart, sophisticated audiences to savor in every cultural corner, and....can I just blurt it out? It's the strongest Best Picture contender I've seen so far this year, and in saying this I'm obviously alluding to Inception.

More early reviews and a new interactive trailer are below.

Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood


Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta enjoyed the "razor-sharp rapid-fire dialogue" and was tempted to read the screenplay - "that's how good it is":

"The film is incredibly well edited and rarely stays in a location for more than a minute…Just like the dialogue, it is a great representation of our current add culture. It also takes a story that most of you probably know and makes it as compelling as a story you’ve never heard it before...Jessie Eisenberg perfectly captures the awkward and impassive qualities of Mark Zuckerberg. Andrew Garfield will win audiences over, and Rooney Mara (who I’ve been unimpressed with thus far) finally shows us why she was cast as the lead in Fincher’s next film. Fincher employs some seamless digital trickery that you probably won’t notice on your first viewing (my mind was completely blown when I found out after the screening)."

Devin Faraci at CHUD believes it to be "the most accessible movie Fincher may have ever made, but that doesn't mean it's missing his touch":

"Eisenberg gets that Zuckerberg is hurting, nearly crippled by his own anxieties and needs, and that his nastiness (which is often hilarious), stems from that. He's ahead of us all, but he needs the rest of us in ways that he doesn't understand, and while he can crack the complexities of code and has an innate understanding of business, he doesn't understand the people around him…Timberlake is just terrific…[he] gets to the wounded soul of this asshole [Sean Parker], and while he never makes the character likable, he makes him at least human, which feels like a great achievement…Like Zodiac, The Social Network is about more than what's it's about. The film cleverly finds ways to comment on how Facebook has infiltrated and changed our lives; it riffs on privacy concerns and the stresses relationship status updates have on us and the change in basic social paradigms brought on by social media and the weird weight a friend invite can have…Absorbing and hilarious and smart, The Social Network is a very old fashioned movie about a very new world."

Sasha Stone credits the "best scene in the movie" to one line delivered by Andrew Garfield, which "hangs in the air like an unwanted ghost":

"Great films are great stories. This film pins you down from the first scene and doesn’t let up until the last pivotal frame. It is all on Eisenberg, this moment. He gives just enough to let us in, to feel his authentic isolation. And then the music starts, and we’re released back into the world. And the first thing you want to do is check your phone for messages. You can’t wait to turn on your computer and check your Facebook or your Twitter. Even as I did so, the film was alive in my mind. I waited to hear from my “friends,” my connections with people whose faces I have never seen, but whose thoughts are typed to me every moment of the day."

This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Genres, Headliners, Stuck In Love, Reviews, Media, Oscars, David Fincher, Thriller, Drama, Biopics, Critics


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.