Everyone knows how popular Facebook is today, what with its addictive nature, privacy issues and massive influence. So initially the idea of “Facebook: The Movie” did not present itself to be the worthiest project for talents such as writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher.
But “The Social Network” is far more than a movie about a website. Indeed, Facebook itself is hardly featured. The filmmakers focus instead on the real-life drama that was involved in the website’s development.
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is the genius who co-founded Facebook with the help of fellow Harvard students. He is involved in two legal battles: one against his former best friend and one involving three other students who claim they are the originators of the idea for Facebook.
The film travels back a few years and fills in how each lawsuit arose.
After his girlfriend dumps him, a drunken Zuckerberg creates a website titled “FaceMash,” which takes pictures of female students from online Harvard dorm face books and allows browsers to choose which one is the most attractive. The page is quickly shut down but lasts long enough to attract the interest of some other students looking to create a social network exclusively for Harvard students. Zuckerberg begins to work for them but finds himself developing a separate idea that eventually becomes what is now known as Facebook.
None of the background story sounds particularly interesting, but Sorkin’s script’s witty banter makes it riveting. It is enhanced by Fincher’s excellent direction, which always places the camera in the optimum position.
The soundtrack, by Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor, makes it clear that the characters aren’t simply nerds who spend all their time in front of computer screens but are actually the rock stars of our time.
Despite his tremendous intellect, Zuckerberg has trouble connecting with people. Eisenberg’s performance is wonderful in that it portrays Zuckerberg as somewhat sympathetic but also as a huge jerk. He handles Sorkin’s dialogue with ease and quells any debate of whether Eisenberg is the indie Michael Cera.
The rest of the cast, including new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s best friend Eduardo Saverin, aptly perform. Justin Timberlake is extremely charismatic as Sean Parker, who created Napster and is apparently the coolest guy in the world of Internet entrepreneurialism. Also worth noting is Armie Hammer, who plays both Winklevoss twins, two stereotypical but amusing Harvard men.
In some ways, “The Social Network” is old fashioned. It is a classical, accessible tale of a rise to power — full of greed, lust and betrayal.
That the film makes that story about subjects as complex as computer programming and depositions worthwhile is remarkable.
Sean Lemme/Staff reporter
Sean Lemme can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.