AMERICAN Ivy League colleges are, for the esteemed and intelligent yet so frequently socially challenged young men who attend them, a giant playground for the getting into of two things: exclusive boys’ clubs and the pants of their female peers.
These two things, according to Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant screenplay and David Fincher’s sensational directorial vision, were essentially what motivated the young socially inept genius, Mark Zuckerberg, to put his ingenuity and “someone’s” awesome idea into practice.
The result? Facebook.
Probably the most anticipated film release of this year, The Social Network (2010) – far more credible than its “buzz” subtitle “the Facebook movie” would suggest – is a clever, witty and wildly entertaining examination of the one man (and to a lesser degree the various men) responsible for revolutionizing the way we interact socially and come to “friend” one another.
Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires, Sorkin writes Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as a character whose achievements are the result of his great intellect and, rather amusingly, an intense desperation to be “liked”.
The film opens with Zuckerberg being dumped by his girlfriend – not for being a nerd, but for being an ass. Hurt and entirely dumbfounded by the whole debacle, Zuckerberg drunkenly blogs about and simultaneously creates the crude misogynist site that is, in a matter of mere hours, responsible for crashing the entire Harvard network.
The site, Facemash.com, is the brainchild of Zuckerberg’s inebriated angst and best mate Eduardo Saverin’s (Andrew Garfield) perfect algorithm; a combination that allows Harvard’s elite and odious young male students to pit the aesthetic qualities of their female peers against one another. Using images from the internal “facebook” pages of Harvard’s various college houses, the site reaches 22,000 hits in just two hours.
Given six months academic probation, hated on by pretty much every female on campus and left hanging like a giant matzah ball, Zuckerberg is relieved when formidable Aryan twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both played brilliantly by Armie Hammer) approach him with a unique “opportunity”. Together with their business partner Divya Narenda (Max Minghella), the boys offer to help repair Zuckerberg’s reputation and get him one step closer to the elite college Crew club he so desperately wants to join. The terms? Zuckerberg must help them with their idea for an exclusive online college network called The Harvard Connection.
Flashing forward to the present day, Zuckerberg is caught up in proceedings for two different lawsuits; one launched against him by best mate and former CFO of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin; and the other filed by Narenda and the Winklevosses who claim Zuckerberg stole “intellectual property”, i.e. the very “idea” behind Facebook from them.
From here on, the film flicks to and fro from past to present as the narrative explains away Zuckerberg’s awesome, simultaneous successes and failures.
Sporting a supremely witty script and accomplished direction, Sorkin and Fincher have collectively produced what’s sure to be the most acerbically entertaining and brilliantly paced film of the year. Jesse Eisenberg proves himself to be a whole lot more than just a poor man’s Michael Cera, just as Justin Timberlake (playing Napster’s co-founder Sean Parker) proves himself to be more than just a singer stand-in.
Taking certain liberties with its “real life” subject matter, The Social Network isn’t a definitive, educational guide to the history and founding of Facebook. But what it is, is a fantastic story done right. In fact, it’s done so well that it achieves the ultimate aim of its own subject matter: a social media/medium that is, above all else, cool.
The Social Network opens October 28 in cinemas around Melbourne.