Hands up, who wanted to see a movie about the creation of Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg? Thought so, neither did I. Well, anyway, it got made, and by none other than David Fincher of Fight Club fame. And surprisingly, it turned out good though not in a way I expected it to.
Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is a socially awkward, quite like every other role he plays, Harvard student who is a genius in programming and knows a thing or two about classics of literature it seems. He’s dumped by his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara who will appear in Fincher’s upcoming The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo), he goes on a drunken rampage on his blog about said ex and her family name and cupsize among other things (actually managing a funny joke about it all the while). This leads into him creating a website called Facemash in which pictures of college women are put side to side and visitors can vote which one is hotter. This eventually, through a few turns, becomes Facebook and the movie follows the ensuing lawsuits that Zuckerberg faces for pretty much strutting over everyone else with his mighty intellect and balls of steel. So are we to believe he is Duke Nukem all of the sudden?
The story is pretty straightforward, although layered non-chronologically with the two different lawsuits and the history of Facebook, eventually including Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake, of Napster fame, portrayed as a paranoid and delusional young entrepreneur with inexhaustible creativity and vision. The other early help the Zuck has, financially, is Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin, ambitious yet greedy best-friend-turned-rival of the setting. It seems the story is cluttered with archetypes: Zuck is the (in)fallible hero, Saverin is the greedy knight who turns to the dark side, Parker is Satan luring the hero yet cannot escape his vices, and the junior lawyer, Marylin Delpy (Rashida Jones) is the fairy godmother giving good advice in the end.
The thing is though, it is hard to like Zuckerberg. At least in the movie. He manages to be so repulsive and an asshole, despite Delpy’s claims, of such magnitude it’s hard to believe he is so talented and genius. Well, maybe not since it seems that everyone thinks geniuses and greatly gifted people are complete douchebags. The Zuck just is always depicted as the brightest guy in any given situation and always has the solution to every problem and he knows it, and even willingly flashes it to everyone in the form of witty and dry remarks pissing everyone off, along with what I’d imagine would be most viewers. What makes it all the more creepier is the thought of this guy being able to access any of us’ Facebook profile as he pleases. Whether or not the real Zuck is anything like the guy that is depicted in The Social Network is another question entirely and the fact is I don’t want to know.
The movie is topped with an exciting, Academy Awarded score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with a hint of Edvard Grieg thrown into the mix and with a sleek look and swift editing, again Academy Awarded. Despite the lack of a likable or relatable main character The Social Network works on a fundamental level, and that is as a story. Whether or not you like the people, or Facebook itself for that matter, the story surrounding it is quite intriguing, and despite Zuck’s complete lack of likability, he is nevertheless interesting as an on-screen character, and Eisenberg does make the character his own, even to the level of an uncanny resemblance to the actual Zuck despite not looking alike.
What nevertheless will happen after watching this movie is that you’ll most likely end up discussing the impact and issues of Facebook. And maybe fortune and women, like Parker and Zuck at the nightclub. Whether you like the movie or not will more than likely reflect your opinion on Facebook and social media in addition to your taste in movies.