Movie Review: The Social Network

Story by Eric Christenson

Before I started writing this review, I sat at my computer, and by sheer muscle-memory and mental ritual, I checked Facebook. Then I wrote my name at the top of a Word document, and then I distractedly checked Facebook again.

I’m sure the majority of us do this so habitually that Facebook is actually becoming not only the most perfect procrastination tool to exist, but it is an unconscious part of our everyday routine. It’s true, and whether or not we like it, it’s sort of an epidemic.

Based on the book, Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, The Social Network is a film about the creators of Facebook, the strains of their relationship and the lawsuits that ensue.

It is a movie that deals with something that is so deeply ingrained in our culture’s foundation, something that is so far down inside our generation’s psyche that it has the opportunity to either be wildly rewarded or fiercely disparaged.

Fortunately, behind the writer’s desk is the man behind the breathless wit of The West Wing, the short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, A Few Good Men, and countless other insanely respectable, critically acclaimed projects. The same goes for director David Fincher, famous for movies like Fight Club, Seven, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

These two make a complementary combination as Fincher’s understated and beautiful shooting style accents Sorkin’s impeccably snappy dialogue so much that out of the film’s 120 minutes, there isn’t one that sees a lull. The film’s pace is remarkable: quick when necessary, yet never so fast to lose viewers.

What is particularly interesting about this movie is that the character of Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), Facebook’s creator, isn’t necessarily virtuous by any means. He acts out of jealousy and scattered ambition, and he is perpetually socially awkward, but Eisenberg portrays this with mastery. Eisenberg plays to Zuckerberg’s sporadic genius with just a slight touch of likability which makes his character respectable and therefore a sensible protagonist.

Meanwhile, the defunct creator of Napster, Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) takes interest in Zuckerberg’s project and convinces Zuckerberg to make the project bigger, cooler and more streamlined to the point where Zuckerberg would be making billions of dollars, but Zuckerberg’s not interested in the money, only the fame and significance. The allure of that lifestyle causes Zuckerberg’s decisions within the Facebook project to become more and more brash until some friction is struck.

As the Facebook phenomenon grows, the relationship between Zuckerberg and site co-founder and best friend and Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield) begins to feel significant strain as each begins to move in different creative directions with the site until finally, the friendship is broken and Saverin ends up suing Zuckerberg for $600 million.

An interesting point about The Social Network is its lack of female characters. At the beginning of the film, Zuckerberg is broken up with and gotten-the-better-of by his now ex-girlfriend, Erica Albright (played by Rooney Mara). She is a strong, smart female character, but she is almost the only one save the young, female lawyer played by Rashida Jones. Every other girl in the film is seemingly a trophy to be won through Zuckerberg’s escapades.

This is cleverly used to discreetly explain one of the film’s minor themes. Zuckerberg is doing the Facebook project as a result of his hard breakup, and the film revisits this sentiment only a few times. He’s trying to get back at Albright for breaking his heart by doing something extravagant, so he’s not only motivated by selfishness, pride and jealousy.

But I wouldn’t call it revenge. I would call it a struggle to find satisfaction. The only way for Zuckerberg to be satisfied with himself is to gain the approval of this girl, probably one of the only girls he respects.

The Social Network is being called the film of our generation, and while that may or may not be true, it is still a genuine work of outstanding acting, flawless scripting and immaculate directing that is sure to obtain noteworthy exposure and maybe an Oscar nod or two.