Top Ten Movies of 2010 — Number Nine

Despite the mad rush to anoint the film a staggering excavation of a generation transformed and defined by a different type of interconnectivity than any that’s come before–a charge seemingly led by film critics and others with only the most tenuous grasp on the influence of new media–David Fincher’s The Social Network ultimately has far more modest aspirations. It’s probably not coincidental that the film Fincher made is more satisfying than the theoretical film some deluded observers imagine it to be. The Social Network is about web-based communications the same way that Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator is about aeronautics. There may be some additional insight to be gleaned about the characters by understanding the unique elements of the world they operate in, but the characters remain the primary focus, and the timeless, universal concerns that drive them give the film its weight. The film is about friendship and betrayal, the way allegiances shift subtly as personal weakness are stoked then exploited. And it’s about the ongoing struggle to relate in a society the compulsively alienates any who demonstrates unsettling hints of otherness. Fincher directs the film with a gratifying leanness, a confidence that the potent personalities will drive the proceedings just fine, especially since they’ve filled with the rocket fuel of Aaron Sorkin’s hyperverbal screenplay. The film is sleek and shrewd, redolent with the wafting muskiness of old-school intelligence, an antiquated belief that themes, ideas and passions don’t necessarily need to be spoon-fed to audiences. The perplexed irritation of Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg and the mounting disappointment of Andrew Garfield as his discarded partner Eduardo Saverin are intriguing and moving enough without the pomposity of a film that labors to make an enveloping statement about the era it depicts.

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