By Caitlin Gardner
Even if The Social Network contains very little about the intricacies of social networking or of Facebook itself, and even if its facts are grossly exaggerated and sympathetic to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, it is a damn well done film.
Director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin lift a film that did not seem remotely interesting on the tarmac.
Think of it as this generation’s Amadeus, another good film allergic to facts and lacking deep understanding. Unlike Amadeus, however, there are many Salieris in The Social Network.
The film focuses on the simultaneous 2004 lawsuits Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) was embroiled in.
One lawsuit was by Harvard students Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) and the Winkelvoss twins (Armie Hammer in a dual role), over breaking an oral contract for their social networking site at Harvard, alleging Facebook was their idea.
The other lawsuit was by Zuckerberg’s colleague Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), also suing over the intellectual property of Facebook after being frozen out of the company.
The audience sees the dark side of Zuckerberg early on in an actual incident, where he hacked the Harvard computer systems to get photos of girls which he posted side by side, to have students vote on who was hotter.
He simultaneously ranted online about his ex-girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and all of womankind, resulting in academic probation, and the crashing of Harvard servers.
Zuckerberg quits school after meeting Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake, as a snake oil salesman), to prevent Facebook from staying a college-based phenomenon. Choosing angel investors in Silicon Valley rather than Eduardo as financial backers distances himself from Saverin.
All of Zuckerberg’s transgressions during his time at Harvard catch up with him, leaving him dead in the water in front of a jury if either lawsuit went to court.
Eisenberg portrays someone who, while a genius, did not need to be Mr. Social in order to create Facebook. Zuckerberg seems aloof, introverted, socially awkward, and without filter, despite creating the largest social networking site on the planet.
Eisenberg’s portrayal is neither character assassination nor hagiography. In fact, no one comes off as innocent in The Social Network.
If there is any lesson from the Facebook lawsuits, it is that they are a major parable for the Internet and Facebook itself: everything you do is at the disposal for someone else, and that they may want more from you.
The direction, editing, dialogue, and acting, with standouts Eisenberg and Hammer, make The Social Network incredibly entertaining. Who woulda thunk it?