I just got home from the theater after watching the David Fincher directed and Aaron Sorkin scripted movie The Social Network. When I first saw the trailer for the movie a couple months ago it really didn’t appeal all that much to me but when I started reading all of the positive review I decided to check it out for myself and was really impressed by this film. Jesse Eisenberg plays the role of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and creates a character that is almost totally unlikeable but still has flashes of humanity that prevent you from hating him completely. In the beginning of the movie we see Mark at a bar with his then girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) who is rightly frustrated by Mark’s obsession with trying to get into Harvard’s prestigious final clubs, his rapid fire topic changes, and finally his dismissal of her education (she only goes to lowly Boston University). Insulted by Mark’s comments she dumps him and says that while he’ll think that girls don’t like him because he is a geek it’s really due to the fact that he is an asshole.
Erica leaving inadvertently sets off the whole series of events that would lead to the creation of Facebook. Mark goes back to his dorm room gets the idea to hack into each Harvard residence hall’s site and upload pictures of the girls so that they can be compared against one another by other students while he was heavily drinking and simultaneously bashing Erica on his blog. That site entitled Facemash causes the Harvard network to crash within a few hours and captures not only the ire of the coeds and administrators but the attention of three fellow students who represent the elite social position Mark wishes that he held. The wealthy Winklevoss brothers and their business associate approach Zuckerberg to help develop their social website idea the Harvard Connection.
The story flawlessly moves in between to deposition scenes where Mark is being sued by his former best friend, Eduardo, the Winklevosses (or Winklevossi as Mark calls them), and finally to flashbacks of how he took the idea of Harvard Connection and morphed it into his own creation The Facebook. It is essentially less about the site itself than questioning the ownership of intellectual property and the sometimes cut throat nature of a super successful business idea. Zuckerberg in this movie is portrayed as someone who is socially inept but exceedingly brilliant and while not very interested in money he seems to yearn for acceptance from the final clubs of Harvard and from Erica with whom he desperately wants to reconcile with and impress with the fact that he founded Facebook. His underlying vulnerability is what makes the character so compelling while being distant and at times completely removed from any emotional connections with the other characters. Even his adversaries don’t seem like bad people, just people fed up with the way Mark carries himself. The Winklevoss brothers hold off for a long period of time before taking legal action against Mark believing that they can work out their problems with him. Eduardo often seems like a girlfriend desperate attention from Mark who rarely shows any appreciation for the friend who gave him the money to pursue his brilliant idea.
Sorkin developed his script from the book by Ben Mezrich entitled The Accidental Billionaires which is more favorable to Eduardo but Sorkin is pretty even handed with his treatment of the story though Eduardo is fairly sympathetic as the betrayed friend. The dialogue in the film is delivered quickly and is full of the usual Sorkin wit that will not only produce some laughter but keep you fully engaged even in the deposition scenes. Fincher doesn’t use a lot of fancy camera tricks but shoots the flim in such a way where you feel apart of Zuckerberg’s world from his time in front of computers to nights spent partying.
I wasn’t disappointed by any of the other actor’s turning in a poor performance and Justin Timberlake was great as Sean Parker the cocky and self-aggrandizing founder of Napster who inserts himself into the Facebook website much to the chagrin of Eduardo. Zuckerberg is entranced by Sean due to his previous success and makes life changing decisions based on this new acquaintance’s recommendations. Parker seems the complete opposite of Zuckerberg, he is at ease socially and quite charming with the ladies but also vengeful and has no qualms about getting people out of his way by any means to make a quick buck. While Mark the awkward misfit seems remorseful over the decisions he has made but does nothing to make amends.
I’ve only seen a handful of movies in the theaters this year and out of them Inception was probably the best one and The Social Network is a completely different experience but just as entertaining and captivating. It’s not a classic or earth shattering movie as I have seen some reviewers claim but it is certainly a very good movie and tells the story of a very important piece of our new online social lives. Out of four stars I’ll give it three and a half and it’s worth the price of admission by a wide margin.