To me, the cinema is sound and vision. So generally, I like a car chase in a movie. Or a train robbery. Something, at least, to get my heart pounding. So, I don't like date movies, talking heads movies (with the exception of Stop Making Sense) or films that are TV movies but just don't know it. So (and I'll stop with the 'Sos' any minute now), I should not have liked 'The Social Network' - but I loved it. Go figure.
It had the potential to be the most boring film ever. They could have focused on the development of Facebook or, god forbid, they could have bought into the inanities that I and millions of others post up there night after night. But they didn't; instead they sidesteppped the main story and concentrated instead on the dynamics that crackled between the beautiful, young, creative and damaged people responsible for kickstarting this piece of social history.
But the director, David Fincher, is well aware of the need to fuse the sound and the vision and he does so - elegantly. The camera moves unobtrusively yet gracefully as we follow Zuckerberg on way home to vent his rage on the girl who jilts him (and invent Facebook while getting drunk). Throughout the movie the music (from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) enriches the atmosphere without ovepowering it. Somehow, these are the elements of the film which appeal to me - moreso than the, admittedly very clever, script.
Which is what led me to write about the film. It's like I'm trying to say something about it but it won't quite formulate itself. It seems like those involved in this film, especially the director, were really enjoying it. For instance, he was able to present the Harvard frat house system in all its pomposity and ridiculousness while at the same time showing the very real and ominous impact it has on the lives of Americans far and wide, and yet he managed to do it without making the characters totally dislikeable, even to aging socialists like me. (Or maybe, I'm mellowing.) And this carries through to every single object, animate or inanimate, that comes into the frame - you get the feeling that the director is enjoying it, getting off on it and, most importantly, sharing this jouissance with the viewer. This viewer, at any rate.
Jouissance is a word used by Lacan to describe something almost indescribable. It is a pleasure but pleasure that can be traumatic if experienced beyond a certain limit (perhaps like all pleasure). It's just as well this movie occurs within a frame - otherwise it might spill over and overwhelm us. As it is, we can experience it realtively safely and pleasurably and leave the cinema feeling not eactly proud to be human but glad to be. What more can we ask of the work of art?