The Social Network (2010)
Directed by David Fincher
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Within the film’s first scene, we learn a lot about what kind of movie The Social Network will be and what kind of character to expect from Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a scene that ends with his girlfriend, Erica Albright, breaking up with him. But during the first few minutes, there are so many things that we take note of that we might have or might not have known. For one, Zuckerberg is very intelligent. Okay, we knew that already. Also, he’s not a typical nerd even though he sees himself as just that. He’s conniving and selfish and talks like he’s above everyone else (and even if he is, there’s not a humble cell in his body). I love how the scene ends, with the girl telling Zuckerberg that he’s not going to be alone because girls won’t like him since he’s a nerd, girls won’t like him because he’s an asshole.
Why would a movie about the insanely popular social networking website, Facebook, be at all compelling or worth watching? Because even though it’s been coined as “The Facebook Movie,” the website is merely the product that is being exploited throughout the film. It works because The Social Network is a powerful and fascinating film about friendship, power, and betrayal through a time where the characters are vulnerable the most, their college years. It’s known that kids make plenty of stupid mistakes, and the same applies even for Harvard students.
Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires, the team of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher creates a memorable tale of the rise of a multi-billion dollar idea. Because a lot of the information comes from Eduardo Saverin, it’s easy for the film to feel slanted against Zuckerberg, but the writing of Sorkin did a great job to walk the thin line between what was right and wrong and what was simply in the best interest for the individuals.
After the break-up, Zuckerberg takes out his frustration and anger out through alcohol and by creating, Facemash, a site that rates the hotness of Harvard girls. The site was an immediate success and tallied 22,000 hits in a few hours, enough to crash the Harvard server. Through this scheme, he creates plenty of enemies, such as every girl on campus along with the board that gives him six months of academic probation. But there are a few that appreciated his genius prank. He is sought out by twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to create a Harvard-exclusive networking site. Zuckerberg takes this idea and makes it his own and calls the site “The Facebook.” It becomes a smash hit at Harvard and then eventually he expands to different schools across the nation and then to other countries. Zuckerberg friends Sean Parker, Napster creator, and dozens of new doors are opened because of his clout and infectious personality. Through the whole ride, Eduardo is cast by the wayside and Facebook blows up into a phenomenon.
One of the main aspects that has made The Social Network so well-received among fans and critics is its controversy. After the film, you and your friends will debate if Zuckerberg’s actions and intentions were in good-will or not. Or did Zuckerberg really steal the idea from the Winklevoss twins? How jealous was Zuckerberg of Eduardo because of the Phoenix S-K final club?
Also, the film moved at such a great pace because of its story-telling method with the use of flashbacks and cuts from the testimony in the depositions to the scenes they were using as evidence. I can’t think of a better way to keep the audience entertained and informed in such a stylistic and neck-breaking way.
The Social Network is a beautifully made film thanks to everyone that was involved. Combined with Sorkin’s dialogue, Jesse Eisenberg takes Zuckerberg and makes it his own. From the quick wit, awkward antics and subtle emotions spilling from his face, I’m not sure if too many other actors could have pulled off playing this super-smart, super-unlikeable yet sympathetic character. Justin Timberlake was also a stand-out with his portrayal of Sean Parker. His presence in every scene was full of energy and confidence, which were reasons why Zuckerberg was in awe of him.
Whether or not the character of Zuckerberg is accurate, the film portrayal of Zuckerberg has everything a protagonist should have in a great drama. He’s damaged, flawed, and full of interest and meaning and he grows through every frame of the film. His actions and reactions resonate throughout the story, and his creation changed the entire face of the social networking universe. This is a movie for this generation to enjoy and embrace in its excellence. I know I’m not alone when I say you can expect a good number of Oscar nominations for The Social Network.