The Social Network
Cast includes: Jesse Eisenberg (Holy Rollers), Andrew Garfield (Never Let Me Go), Justin Timberlake (Love Actually), Rooney Mara (Youth in Revolt), Armie Hammer (Flica)
Director: David Fincher (Seven)
Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing (creator))
Genre: Drama, based on a book, The Accidental Billionaires (2010)
In brief: Erica has Mark Zuckerberg’s number. “Going out with you is like dating a stairmaster,” she tells him. When she breaks up, her final words are, “You’ll probably go through life thinking girls won’t date you because you’re a nerd. It’s not because you’re a nerd. It’s because you’re an asshole.” That night Mark is so distraught he goes home and blogs about Erica. At the same time he gets an idea to set up “Facemash,” a rating system for the girls at Harvard. He gets the algorithm from his best friend, Eduardo, and works non-stop to set it up. He emails the link to two of Eduardo’s Phoenix Club friends. They each email it to their friends. And it instantly goes viral, getting 22,000 hits in the first hour… taking down the whole Harvard network before the night is over.
When the Winklevoss twins learn about Mark and Facemash, they have a proposal. They’re looking for a programmer to help them develop an idea called “The Harvard Connection.” It’s similar to MySpace, but it’s exclusively for people with a Harvard email address. Mark says he’ll do it. But when he gets started, he realizes he has a better idea. “I looked at what they had and decided it wasn’t worth my time.” Thirty-nine days later, Zuckerberg launches TheFacebook, with a $1,000 investment from his friend, Eduardo. Fast forward…. We find that Zuckerberg is the defendant in two lawsuits… one with the Winklevoss twins and one with Eduardo. What happened and what’s up with the lawsuits is the focus of the rest of the film, which unfolds as a first-rate drama.
Even though the film is “based on” a true story, keep an open mind. The script by West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin is a riveting, well-crafted story. But the filmmakers have acknowledged that their goal was to tell a good story, not to educate us. Even the most cursory Google search reveals that the history of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook is far more complex than what’s shown in this film… more characters, more lawsuits, more nuisances and more twists and turns. And Zuckerberg is nowhere near as hyperactive as he’s portrayed in the movie. But that said, it’s a first-rate story… largely fiction, and it’s very well told.
4 popped kernels
Excellent story, well-crafted dialogue, great acting… especially Jesse Eisenberg
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neither upbeat nor somber
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Social Significance: Informative