The Social Network
- Rob Carnevale
- 5 October 2010
David Fincher’s The Social Network, aka ‘the Facebook movie’, is a film about smart people that arrives with the intelligence to match.
Based on a script by Aaron The West Wing Sorkin and inspired by Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, the film examines how the world’s biggest social networking site came to be and, more importantly, at what cost.
It’s a dazzling history lesson, albeit with embellishments, that says as much about the society that helped to create the Facebook phenomenon as it does about the men who came up with the idea. Facebook can now command 500 million users, while its co-creator, 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, is the youngest billionaire in history. Incredibly, he got there by accident.
As Fincher’s film opens, Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) talks his way into being dumped. It’s clear from the start that he’s ultra-intelligent but socially inept – an uber-geek who does his best work with a keyboard and often when hurt. The germ of an idea is born from this rejection, but with best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) in tow, the seeds are quickly sewn.
With success, however, comes law suits, firstly from a trio of fellow Harvard students, led by the Winklevoss twins, who claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea, and then from Saverin, who reacts to being betrayed and frozen out after seeing Zuckerberg seduced by the vision and style of Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).
Fincher’s film bounces between legal disputes, using flashbacks to show where it went right and wrong. It’s a movie defined by irony in many ways – the emotional cost of financial success and of spawning the world’s most popular ‘friends’ site while losing all of your own. But it also cleverly dissects modern society, with all of its contradictions.
Sorkin’s effervescent script tests audiences’ loyalties without being judgmental, while its performances are fearless enough not to worry about engaging our sympathy. You may not particularly like the people involved, but the journey is everything here.
General release, Friday, 15 Oct.