Yesterday I went to see The Social Network. I don’t go the movies much anymore. I always go on Halloween to avoid the ghosties and goblins – after 40 plus years of handing out candies to mobs of costumed neighbor kids I figure I’ve served my time. And occasionally, no more than once or twice a year a particular film will catch my interest and I’ll go see it.
It is not that I don’t like movies. It’s because I feel especially lonely when I am alone in a large crowd. I don’t like that feeling.
Anyway – back to The Social Network. A friend had highly recommended it and the subject interested me – so, off I went. I was concerned that I would be late for the showing because I got a late start and hit every red light en route to the theater. I actually sat in my seat at the theater at the exact moment the schedule in the newspaper had indicated as the start time. I needn’t have been concerned – I had to suffer through 16 minutes of previews. A few of the previews were of movies that weren’t scheduled to open until after the first of the year.
Finally, the movie began. The first scene, the break up between Mark, the main character, and his girlfriend, which I thought was superbly acted, takes place in either a restaurant or bar that is so dimly lit that I felt as if I was watching through dark glasses. Next, Mark is outside – it is very dark outside, much darker than you would expect in a well lighted urban area at night. Then he is walking through an equally dark and dreary college campus, and I’m thinking: this would be a mugger’s dream. Now he is in the hallway of his dormitory – this, too, dark and gloomy. At last, in his room – and I’ll swear the bulbs in the lamps can not possibly be stronger than 15 watts. It was darker than it could have been for Abraham Lincoln, reading by candlelight in his log cabin 190 years ago. It would be impossible for anyone to study in that room.
There were more scenes in that room, other dorm rooms and at a wild club party, equally dark and gloomy. When, at last, came a scene in the daylight hours – a conference room setting – and it, too, looked as if it were twilight and the lights in the room hadn’t been turned on – – I took off. Seventeen minutes of drear. I was not going to sit through the remaining 103 minutes. I was very disappointed, because I’m certain that I would have otherwise enjoyed that movie.
If I were the director of that movie, and had looked at those scenes at the end of the day, I know I would have said: “Oh my God, this is awful. We’re going to have to reshoot every one of these scenes!”
Over the years I have walked out of a few other movies similarly done. I don’t understand what would motivate a director to shoot an entire movie that way.