Everyone seems to use Facebook, but how interested are they in a movie about its creators? And a generously embellished one at that? Director David Fincher, working from Aaron Sorkin’s script based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, finds some decent intrigue, rivalrous backstabbing and a little courtroom-style contention and pairs it with a capable cast of young actors. Yet even a pounding score from Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, creative editing skipping back and forth in time, and the charismatic performance from Jesse Eisenberg (who revels in rapid-fire speech and quirky mannerisms whether he’s fighting zombies, lawyers, or carnival employees) doesn’t give the already exaggerated accounts the garnish it needs to emerge as something more than an admissible story of friendships in turmoil. The underlying themes of lost loves and the contrasts of the disintegrating social lives of individuals against the booming success of their online communities are interesting ones, but not necessarily the stuff of legends – or even the truth.
Aspiring to become a member of the final clubs at Harvard University, student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) attempts to get their attention with “facemash.com”, a website that compares photos of female undergrads at several universities. When the site receives thousands of hits and garners recognition from the Winklevoss brothers, who wish to use his talents to create a Harvard exclusive website, he instead opts to start his own social networking community called “The Facebook” and begins developing it with his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Quickly becoming a sensation amongst colleges, Mark is influenced to expand his website and to move his base of operations to California by Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), much to Eduardo’s disapproval. As Facebook rapidly grows to a multi-million dollar idea, Mark witnesses his own social success steadily crumble around him as lies, mistrust and greed threaten to destroy his creation.
How much of it is true? The most interesting aspect of The Social Network is debating and hypothesizing over what is fictional and what is factual. Based on interviews, articles and photographs, it’s likely so much of the script was spruced up for entertainment value that many of the people are unrecognizable. Nevertheless, billionaires tend to make great subject matter for biopics.
Mark doesn’t seem interested in money or partying, yet he’s intent on swindling his best friend, alienating his college sweetheart, “the one that got away,” stealing intellectual property, and joining forces with other likeminded young adults, including the man who invented Napster (his greatest contribution is dropping the “The” from the front of Facebook), to show those pesky elders what real power is. Show the adults who’s boss. It’s partly motivational, marginally amusing and perhaps even inspiring. Who wouldn’t want to be the world’s youngest billionaire? None of the characters are particularly likeable, but the acumen is admirable.
“In the scheme of things, it’s a speeding ticket,” states lawyer Delpy (Rashida Jones) of the 65 million dollars Mark must pay to settle out of court for the theft of ideas. It is, in fact, only 0.0026 percent of the estimated value of Facebook. These numbers are truly overwhelming, and never quite put into perspective. With sharp editing, appropriately techno-styled music, and a few impressive actors (excluding Jesse Eisenberg, who once again plays himself), and super-intelligent dialogue (like Wall Street lingo for computer programming coders), The Social Network is still enjoyable, despite the uncertain target audience. Everyone involved already possesses genius intellect, highbrow social status and substantial wealth. Is this for all college kids, or just the brainy ones? If the audience gasps when Mark sets perspiring drinks on a laptop as if it were a coaster, you’ll know you’re with the right crowd.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)