Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Social Network (Fincher, 2010)

Chances are, most of you will have logged into another site before this one. You might even be as cool as me, and have it open in another tab. With over 500million users, Facebook is the most used social networking site in the world, making creator Mark Zuckerberg the world's youngest billionaire. And it was only a matter of time before Hollywood grabbed hold of his story. The Social Network tells the story of the conception and consequential explosion of the site, starring Zombieland's Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg. The story is framed by two lawsuits, one between Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) another original Facebook founder, and the other with fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer - with Josh Pence as body double) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea for an exclusive social networking site.

After being dumped by girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara), Zuckerberg returns to his Harvard dorm and, with the help of Sanchez, creates a site called FaceMash, where students can rate the attractiveness of girls on campus. Its massive success prompts the Winklevoss twins and friend/business partner Narenda to approach Zuckerberg with their proposal for a new dating/networking site, Harvard Connections. Zuckerberg agrees to code the site for them, but instead embarks upon his own similar idea, The FaceBook. The site begins to spread to other schools, and attracts the attention of Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Exactly how much of the movie is rooted in truth is debatable - Zuckerberg himself has stated that his life was nowhere near as exciting as the screen portrayal makes out, and the team behind the film also state that his story has been dramatized for storytelling, rather than straight factual detail. However, these exaggerated, possibly completely fabricated, events make the film watchable for a general audience.

Despite his original attitude that money doesn't drive him, Zuckerberg comes across as a driven and slightly manipulative character, particularly after meeting Parker, a hedonistic party animal who seems more interested in the fame and perks than the project itself. Although it seems he is being taken advantage of in some ways, it's hard to sympathise with his cold, clinical attitude towards business, and instead lean toward the interests of Sanchez. Knowing that Sanchez was the only member in any way involved with the screenplay could perhaps some way to explaining this biased representation of the characters...

The Social Network works well as a comedy/drama, the seemingly quite dull (unless you're a computing nerd, anyway) subject matter is made far more interesting by the sprinkling of dry, witty humour, which is, on the whole, delivered excellently - particularly by Eisenberg. There are some real laugh out loud (or to appropriately reference internet speak, LOL) moments, including Sanchez's psychotic girlfriend Christy Lee (Brenda Song) raging about a Facebook founder being unable to change his relationship status. And also, Trent Reznor's involvement with the score means a slightly dark, jarring accompaniment that contrasts with the film's comedic attitude.

The editing between the story and lawsuits is well-thought out, and frames the story perfectly with enough factual detail, but not so much as to bore people. Garfield, soon to hit the big time as the new Spiderman, shines as the likeable Sanchez, although Eisenberg gives a somewhat one-dimensional performance. In the lawsuit scenes, the character came across more like a moody teenage boy than a young billionaire businessman. Indeed, the film seems to depict his journey as more partying than working, and that the success was more down to luck - whereas Zuckerberg himself says it took a lot of hard work and years of coding, rather than drinking, to get Facebook where it is today.

Putting the controversy and notions of realistic representations aside, The Social Network is an enjoyable film. One major criticism is the ending - something which seems rushed and comes very suddenly, with titling on-screen explaining the outcome of the court cases, which seems like a bit of a cop-out, really. Mind you, seeing Zuckerberg in the final scene adding ex-girlfriend Erica and refreshing the page over and over raises a chuckle - something I'm pretty sure some members of the audience related to. Facebook is an integral part of society, and along with being a watchable movie, The Social Network shows how one man's dorm-room project became one of the world's biggest internet sites - a pretty fascinating concept, in all.



  1. I really enjoyed this film. Maybe the ending came suddenly, but I would have liked four more hours of it.