David Fincher directs a film about the dramatic origins of the website we know as Facebook, called “The Social Network”. The film is based off of Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires”, and tells the (allegedly true) story of a Harvard hacker kid, Mark Zuckerberg. The film tells of how his creation of the website Facebook would come to earn him billions of dollars but also destroy his relationships with the people around him, including the co-creator of the website and his best friend, Eduardo Saverin.
Allow to me say right off the bat that although the subject matter involves Facebook, this is by no means some quick, half-hearted attempt to capitalize on the website’s huge success. Quite the opposite, actually. “The Social Network” is not a movie about a website, it is a movie about the website’s origins and impact, on a human scale. “The Social Network” is a grand, bold, often blunt portrait of one man’s relationships with other people melting not because of his success, but because of the personality traits success brings out in him.
The first scene, where Zuckerberg breaks up with girlfriend Erica, establishes Zuckerberg as being hyper-articulate, overly defensive and yet undeniably a genius. It also establishes the ridiculously quick pace at which characters speak in this film, with roughly 4 hours worth of dialogue condensed into a 120-minute flick. Yet, one is never overwhelmed or struggling to keep up with the film, because the film is never smug or self-satisfied about it. Props to “West Wing”s Aaron Sorkin for crafting such a good script.
Despite its quick pace and rhythm, the tone of the movie is somewhat somber. When Zuckerberg’s success begins we don’t rejoice with him, we feel like we’re witnessing the end of this character as his friends know him. Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails supplies the score for this movie, and does some really great electro/soft rock beats for it.
Jesse Eisenberg delivers nothing more and nothing less than the best male performance of the year as Mark Zuckerberg. Fully fleshing out Mark for all his genius, his quirks, his cruelty, it’s as riveting and watchable a piece of acting as has been done all year. Andrew Garfield (the next ‘Spider-Man’) portrays Eduardo, the co-creator of Facebook who Mark gradually abandons over time. Although his role doesn’t nearly require as much as Eisenberg’s, it’s still an emotionally demanding one and Garfield knocks it out of the park.
The real surprise here is Justin Timberlake in his first serious dramatic film-role, who is absolutely fantastic as Sean Parker, another Internet guru that Mark idolizes. His role generally requires him to be very energetic, hyper and upbeat and to anyone who’s seen his ‘SNL’ skits, it’s no surprise that he knocks that stuff out of the park. But it’s in his last few scenes where Timberlake displays a great sadness, and really comes into his own as a dramatic actor. Rooney Mara, Joseph Mazzello, Brenda Song and Armie Hammer all play various associates of Zuckerberg and despite their limited screen time are all great.
“The Social Network” is alternately witty, heartbreaking, hilarious and intense, but above all, is as riveting, entertaining and just plain good as films can get. Functioning as a character study, a tragedy, a comedy, a snapshot of the way we communicate with one another, and just a damn good story, “The Social Network” captures everything that I love about movies.