People have said a lot of things about The Social Network. That it’s sexist, that it’s not true to the real story, that it makes Mark Zuckerberg out to be someone he’s not, etc. But the one thing no one really can say is that it’s bad. It is widely accepted as a brilliant film directed by David Fincher, starting with a one-of-a-kind script by Aaron Sorkin that seems to remind us of the power a screenplay can and should have. Even the actors are in awe of it to this day, rarely ever going an interview without mentioning how great the script was to begin with.
“Dialogue” is the buzz word you hear most often when there’s talk of Sorkin’s screenplay. This praise followed shortly after we watched the film and witnessed these young actors rattling off witty conversations we all wished we could come up with in real life. (Especially the famous “9 pages of dialogue” opening scene.) Then they released the PDF of the screenplay online just before the Oscars (indeed, it’s up for “Best Adapted Screenplay”), and now all that’s left to do is sit back and marvel. Because it’s one thing to hear good dialogue; it’s another to get straight-up schooled by a master.
While reading, I was only at page 28 when I realized that it’s not Sorkin’s style alone that sets it apart as an amazing script. What struck me is that he doesn’t just write, he navigates – and flawlessly at that. It is loud and clear how the film needs to play out, how the actors need to deliver even a mere one or two words, when the camera is supposed to move, where exactly the editor is supposed to cut, but in an advanced kind of way that is more precise and frantic than most writers could envision – however, it remains a smooth ride throughout nonetheless.
Sorkin may sound self-deprecating in interviews, but the writing knows better: Within its pages, Sorkin is like an assured, knowledgeable tour guide who can talk while walking backwards without tripping once. Not even once.
If the whole Social Network package is a well-oiled machine, then the script is the machine, with everything else happening to fall into place as “the oil,” helping it work as it was meant to work. In the end, everything was delivered the way it was intended. There’s no second-guessing or doubts between the pages, and it’s as effortlessly captivating of a read as it is onscreen. Sorkin’s writing voice is as confident as his main characters, and the result? The Social Network as a complete film struts in such a way that you can’t blame it. This should not only win the Academy Award this year, it should set the standard for the rest of the film industry.
As for the best part? This did it for me: