Friday, October 1, 2010

A New Social Network That Became Facebook

When it was announced that Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires was being made into a film recounting the creation of Facebook and the legal fallout between its founders, many people (including me) didn't hold out much hope for a movie even worth thinking about. When it was later announced that David Fincher was going to direct and that Aaron Sorkin was writing for the new film, I began to believe in the film's success. Now after having seen "The Social Network" I can only say that this is hands down the best film of 2010.

Sorkin introduces us to Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) by letting us sit in on the creation of what is to become an internet sensation. Using different lawsuit depositions as the film's central theme, Sorkin takes us into the private life of a man who becomes the youngest billionaire in the world. After being jilted by an ex-girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), Mark goes back to his dorm and with the help of his best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), pulls off an incredible online stunt -- breaking into all of the nearby colleges computer systems and ranking its female students. This stunt lands him in trouble with the Harvard brass, but also gains him the attention of the Winklevoss twins, Cameron (Armie Hammer) and Tyler (Josh Pence). They ask him to help them create a site for the students of Harvard, to share their experiences at school. They later sue Mark, claiming he stole their idea and turned it into a site he calls The Facebook.

Eduardo agrees to help Mark fund his attempt to create what he calls a website for every one -- that is everyone who they allow access to. Mark meets and becomes enthralled with Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) who would convince Mark to take his site to several Silicon Valley venture capitalists, a move that essentially pushes Eduardo out of the picture and gets his shares in the company cut to next to nothing. This action causes Eduardo to also file suit against his former friend.

Sorkin and Fincher then cut between the two lawsuits and the testimonies given in the respective cases, we see the eventual start-up of Facebook, to its combative aftermath and Zuckerberg himself told through multiple points-of-view. The movie isn't necessarily about the site Facebook itself, it is ultimately about human behavior. Social Network takes care to show all the rage, vindictiveness, pettiness and pain that can come with taking on a venture with friends and letting that friendship become less important than the venture itself.

Zuckerberg is portrayed with little to no honorable qualities. The fact that no one will feel any remorse or pity for Zuckerberg is testament to the near perfect performance by Eisenberg himself.He brilliantly showcases Zuckerberg's anger, hurt and brilliance, as well as the character's arrogance, impatience and vulnerability.

The film is told through several flashbacks and rolls smoothly to it's inevitable conclusion. It is said that the Winklevoss group got over sixty five million dollars and that Eduardo got an undisclosed sum (one billion dollars) and his name put back on the company letterheads. The smooth way that the film progresses is a sign of how good the director is and Fincher is one of the best working today. Sorkin has a way with sharp dialogue and this only enhances even the smallest characters in the film.

I give The Social Network 4 stars. This is a gripping expertly crafted film, a modern story with all of the classic themes of life. A small jealousy fuels one man's desire to be better than everyone around him. The films co-stars are near perfect and Garfield is the best amongst the lot, he brings a warmth and humanity to the role of the wounded friend seldom seen in films today. Like him or not Zuckerberg had enough business savvy to create a website that everyone in the world has heard of.

The Social Network is rated PG-13 for Sexual Content, Drug and Alcohol Use and Language.
Running time is 2 hrs.
Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

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