When director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin got together to make a film about the foundation of Facebook it elicited a gasp from the audiences, I mean it’s a movie about Facebook? Instead of laughter though The Social Network could be seen as one of the best movies of the year. Focusing on those behind the rise of the biggest thing to hit the Internet and how friendships crumbled, director Fincher crafts a solid character drama with some stellar performances worthy of accolades.
In 2003 Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) crafted the world’s biggest social networking site: Facebook. Beginning as a small site merely for the Harvard elite to find their friends Mark and his best friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) feel like their on top of the world until accusations hit that Mark stole the idea for Facebook. As Mark battles three classmates accusing him of stealing their idea his association with Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) could be the straw that break’s Mark’s relationship with his best friend.
Fincher and Sorkin craft a compelling character study about the clashing personalities associated with crafting the largest social networking site in the world. The story of Mark Zuckerberg is ultimately a sad one focusing on a man at the top of the world who has alienated himself from everybody. The movie opens with Zuckerberg breaking up with his girlfriend, played with sufficient sadness by Rooney Mara, and continues with the Facebook founder losing his best friend through his quest for superiority. The different motivations of Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Sean Parker and the Winklevoss twins are all enough to keep the movie flowing at a brisk pace. At a little over two hours you’ll never look at your watch as you get wrapped up in the college experience and big-city aspirations of this group who found the entire world in their back pocket. The rapid-fire dialogue and wry humor also keep the movie from becoming too serious and at the end you leave with a better appreciation of the blood, sweat and tear that went into changing social networking.
The movie may be about something extremely shallow like Facebook but the acting populating The Social Network is enough to garner some awards. It’s hard to say who is truly better in the film, Eisenberg or Garfield, but either way their relationship feels real. The friendship between Zuckerberg and Saverin is the soul of the film, how two best friends’ falling out led to a multi-million dollar lawsuit but its easy to see as the film progresses how their friendship works. Eisenberg walks a fine line between making Zuckerberg the world’s biggest jerk and a vulnerable kid with no social or life skills. Ultimately you pity the guy because his need for superiority and quest for popularity makes him push and insult everyone who can tolerate him. Towards the end when the real petty stuff crops up between Zuckerberg and Saverin it’s sad because Eduardo is the one guy who actually put up with the guy’s crap and lost his shirt. Garfield truly shines as Eduardo Saverin, a young man who merely wanted to win big with his best friend. Garfield plays the character with an air of humor, whether he’s laughing at their “groupies” or trying to put out a fire in his underwear. If anyone needs proof this guy is worthy of carrying the name of Spider-Man, see The Social Network. The rest of the cast is equally solid from Justin Timberlake playing the smarmy Sean Parker to Armie Hammer playing dual roles. Max Minghella, Roony Mara and Brenda Song are also great.
For a film that focuses so heavily on the relationship between Saverin and Zuckerberg it’s odd to see how disjointed the story is between Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins. Their lawsuit takes up a good chunk of the beginning of the film but when Zuckerberg moves to California the story shifts completely over to his lawsuit with Saverin. In fact we never learn the outcome of the Winklevoss lawsuit until the very end when some pat text appears to wrap everything up. If they had intended to make that a main part of the story it could have at least carried over till the end. Instead the Winklevoss’ are portrayed as whiny Harvard elite and their story never goes anywhere. Rashida Jones is also wasted as a lawyer’s assistant whose name is pretty unimportant despite her appearance in the trailers.
This movie is all about Eisenberg and Garfield which is enough to sustain the movie and audiences attention. The Social Network tells a fantastic true story about sadness, loss and the quest for popularity in the rising Age of Information. A must-see for fans of compelling human interest stories.