Sorry for the late post! I just want to say upfront that I am reviewing this strictly as a movie and will not be comparing it to or assuming that it directly correlates to anything Mark Zuckerberg has actually said or done. With that being said, I think this is movie is visually beautiful and has a pretty good soundtrack but the story is problematic and petty. That’s a pretty hefty statement to make, I’m aware, so I’ll get right into it.
I’m not going to lie, I’m a feminist. Not one of those “men are evil and women will triumph the day man falls” type of feminists, but I tend to notice things in our culture and media that treat women either as objects or simply don’t portray them with the same level of respect (or even realism) as men. This movie has an absolutely abysmal portrayal of women. There are three female characters that actually do anything worthwhile in this film that I can think of off the top of my head: Gretchen (Eduardo Saverin’s lawyer), Marylin Delpy (the jury specialist), and Erica Albright. All the other women in this film are portrayed as being crazy, slutty, or really into partying.
Now, I understand that this is supposed to be the story of Mark Zuckerberg and all the other men who were involved in the founding of Facebook, and thus it’s going to be a very male-centric storyline. However, this does not mean that the women who do appear in the film need to be so shallow and poorly presented. On this note, I really enjoyed Erica Albright as a character, but I find it odd that the movie tried to make it seem like she was the reason Mark created Facebook. I think her character was perfectly justified in the way she responded to him in the two scenes they interact with each other, but I still couldn’t get over how contrived it was to say that one of the reasons Mark created Facebook was to prove to Erica that he was a good guy.
Moving on, I want to talk a bit about the interesting uses of lighting and color grading. This film is visually very calming and beautiful, as the lighting has been dimmed down to mostly the essentials and not much extra and everything has been color-graded to have a yellow or green tint to it.
I’m mostly pointing this out because the story itself revolves around two different lawsuits, which are tense and uncomfortable. By making the lighting dimmer than average and giving everything a green or yellow hue amidst sets that are rich browns and reds, the movie becomes visually relaxing despite the nature of the story. The film feels mildly unrealistic despite being loosely based on true events, and the scenes that take place at Harvard feel oddly nostalgic.
Another thing I liked about this film was the way the story was structured. I thought it was interesting to see the lawsuits and the story itself pan out at the same time. Introducing some of the scenes as discussion points for the lawsuits gave much-needed background for why these scenes were important and helped give the audience a sense of how they should feel about these scenes. For instance, the Caribbean party at the Jewish fraternity would not have been nearly as intense had it not been framed as the beginning of a betrayal.
Lastly, I want to talk for a brief second about the music. I am a sucker for music in films that doesn’t call attention to itself unnecessarily. There are plenty of films with grandiose soundtracks that don’t fit the genre of the work as a whole, and seeing a movie with music that simply highlights the scene is very refreshing. I think Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross balanced the music well with what was going on in the film and made sure not to drown out the film with the score. The music is simplistically beautiful and I feel the Best Original Score Academy Award was well deserved.
I honestly don’t care much for the story in this film, as it highlights just how petty college life can be, and how that attitude doesn’t always leave once you’ve graduated or dropped out. All the characters are so bitter and angry with each other that I can’t help but feel apathetic toward all of them. However, I think this film is a great example of where cinema can go visually and musically and deserves to be praised for the aesthetics.