Thursday, October 28, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: The Social Network

The Social Network
 is more ubiquitously known as "The Facebook movie." This is odd, because although the movie does tell the story about the creation of what would go on to become the largest social networking website in the world in Fall 2003 in the dorm room of a 19-year-old Harvard undergraduate, it is really about Mark Zuckerberg the creator and current CEO of Facebook.

The movie is directed by the brilliant David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Alien3) from a screenplay adapted by the equally renowned Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men) from a book called The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal.

The movie stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, whom he plays as a fast-talking, emotionally distant computer genius. In fact, emotionally distant doesn't begin to describe Eisenberg's emotional affect as Zuckerberg in the film; he appears as clearly somewhere advanced on the Autism-Asperger's Syndrome axis.

Since the film makers are well aware that the audiences for the film will likely be on Facebook themselves they provide us with all the details of how a computer program essentially created in a single dorm became a worldwide cultural behemoth less than 7 years later.

Sorkin's screenplay cleverly intercuts between Zuckerberg being deposed in two separate lawsuits over the creation of Facebook, one from his erstwhile best friend Eduardo Saverin (a fellow Jewish student of Brazilian descent played by the attractive actor Andrew Garfield) and from Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss. The Winklevoss Brothers (who are 6'5", 220 lb, blond blue-eyed champion members of Harvard's crew team, played by a single actor Armie Hammer with his face digitally projected on a body double) and Narendra had plans to make a website called HarvardConnect which would allow Harvard students to interact with each other online. They approached Zuckerberg after he became famous on campus for nearly bringing down Harvard's network connection after he developed a website in one night, while drunk, which allowed Harvard students to rate female Harvard students on "hotness." Zuckerberg agreed but never produced any actual code for the Winklevoss twins, and instead started his own website with $1,000 in seed funding from his friend Saverin which he called "" This is about as much of the plot as I want to reveal; suffice it to say it is worth watching, in the theaters, for yourself.

The film is an engrossing, well-told tale of how friendships and relationships can be destroyed by an overwhelming desire to be successful in business, and although Zuckerberg doesn't come out smelling like a rose for his interactions with both the Winklevoss twins and with Saverin, the film clearly demonstrates that Zuckerberg is the reason why Facebook is what it is today and in the word of Eisenberg's character scoffs at the notion that either of the groups suing him could have created anything similar.

It should be noted that Fincher, Sorkin and Zuckerberg have all declared The Social Network to be a work of fiction, but in some sense that makes the film even more entertaining.

Hopefully the film, as well as the work of Eisenberg, Fincher, and Sorkin will not be forgotten at end-of-year awards time. I fully expect this film to be high in my annual Top 10 list.

Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language.
Release Date: October 1, 2010.
Seen: Sunday, October 24, 2010.

Writing: A+.
Acting: A+.
Visuals: A-.
Impact: A-.

Overall Grade: A (4.0/4.0). 

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