The Social Network


Directed by: David Fincher
Written by:Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara, Max Minghella
Released: October 28, 2010
Grade: A

It all began with a girl.  At least that’s what this film will have us believe.  Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) was a 19-year-old college student at Harvard.  To put it simply – he was a nerd.  He had few male friends and even fewer female ones.  His inability to interact socially hampered his chances of getting into an exclusive Harvard club.  It was all he’d think about.  Mark’s current girlfriend (Mara) couldn’t take any more of this obsession and his other neurotic tendencies.  So, she broke up with him.

Mark didn’t take it too well.  That night, he went home and hacked into the databases of the major fraternities on campus.  He downloaded the ID photo of every female and put them on a website he created called “Facemash”.  The site would the pull up the image of two random girls and the user could vote on who was the hottest.  It was so popular that the crashed the Harvard servers.

Mark was put on academic probation for his exploits but he didn’t care.  What mattered was that he was now being talked about on campus.  People knew the name Mark Zuckerberg… and he loved it!

Financed by his best friend Eduardo (Garfield), Mark started a friendlier website called “The Facebook”.  Harvard students could upload information about themselves and it was designed to help people get to know each other.  It proved to be incredibly popular.  Within months, the site was being used in colleges all across America.  We all know what happens next.

As the tagline notes, “you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”  Whilst the film chronicles the creation of Facebook, its focus is on two separate lawsuits that were brought against Mark Zuckerberg.  The first was from three Harvard students who claimed that Mark had stolen their idea.  The second was from best friend Eduardo who found himself out of favour as the company expanded.

The Social Network is an interesting film for a few reasons.  Firstly, we get to see how Facebook came into existence.  This is a website that, in the space of a few years, has significantly changed the way people interact.  I’m convinced that some parts of this story have been embellished for theatrical effect but it’s still engrossing.  It has inspired me to do more reading about the subject matter.  The big question is – are these characters really like the way they are portrayed in the movie?

Secondly, Mark Zuckerberg is an intriguing individual.  I’m curious to know how people will judge him after seeing the film.  Is he a sociopath or is he just misunderstood?  I once met a best-selling author who left me a prophetic quote - “I’ve met a lot of rich people and I can assure you that they’re no happier than you and I.”  I’ve never forgotten that.  Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in the world but let me ask the question – is he happier than you and I?  The final scene of the film should give you the answer.

Finally, you must see this film to witness the skilful direction of David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club).  He’s one of the best directors working today.  You’ll be watching in awe as Fincher weaves the scenes of this film together.  There’s never a dull moment.  He cuts back-and-forth between the modern day setting (the lawsuits) and events as they unfolded (back in 2004). Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson’s War, The American President) also deserves kudos for his sharp dialogue.

How good is Fincher’s trickery when it comes to visual effects?  A few years ago, he brought to life a much older looking Brad Pitt in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.  This time around, he’s baffling us with a set of twins.  Two different actors played the role but he’s used the same face on both characters.  Don’t ask me how but I didn’t even realise until I sat down to write this review.

There’s been a lot of hype regarding The Social Network and many believe it is in line for numerous Academy Award nominations.  It’s a fantastic film but I’m not convinced it will earn the best picture prize.  Will older Academy members really vote for a movie about a sociopathic nerd?  We’ll soon see.