Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) the perfect geek in an imperfect film is about as socially secure as an autistic child who let go of his daddy’s hand at the Texas State fair. A lost boy with a twist…he can program drunk as a skunk and in his sleep. The Internet as social network is a jungle and he is about to tame it with “The Facebook.”
But before Facebook there was “Facemash” a devious invention by the future creator of Facebook depicted as an odious deed done, while drunk, as rejection revenge. While we cannot verify the revenge part, we can enjoy the stealing to come as Mark lets out a howl to “let the hacking begin” before he settles in to rock the social network world that includes MySpace and Friendster. After this initial hacking episode, with its infamous crashing of the Harvard server with 22,000 hits in an hour, Mark escalates the game. He begins to steal outright the very idea for a site from the Winklevoss twins and their Indian partner. They approach him with an idea for “he Harvard Connect.” Mark instantly snaps the picture from one meeting with them, then repaints the walls and calls it The Facebook. His only legal defense later: “I never used a line of their code to create Facebook.”
The Social Network deprecates this poor geek in the esteem of the audience. It dishes on the long arm of Mark—an arm that snakes around his best friend Eduardo Saverin, (Andrew Garfield) so he can easily stab him in the back face-to-Facebook. Saverin sues Zuckerberg in court and is the main informant for Mezrich’s book, who by his admission did not speak directly to Zuckerberg, although he tried to contact him for a year without success.
That’s a problem because The Social Network is an adopted screenplay from the novel The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, by Ben Mezrich. It aids and abets the downfall of this biopic, if there is any, with far too much license taken served in the form of nonexistent sexual cocktails. Sexual intrigue for the hell of it is like a fallen soufflé. You anticipate beauty and scrumptious yet if it falls it is hardly fit to serve your guests! However ugly, its taste remains intact, you cut it—you like it, it likes you back.
Harvard’s buzz beginning in 2003 and the “Facebook me” meme that sweeps the major Ivy universities in the USA and England is the best part of this interesting classic take on generation XY ME. My take: I think that if Facebook fell into the discovery genre it would be Nobel Prize worthy. It is, at the very least—Internet cream that rises up to and over the top. It makes you fat and lazy but you gotta have it.
The verdict is out on whether or not too much fantasy and fiction has been blended with the real tableau of the youngest billionaire on earth. Did the screenplay, director David Fincher, and well-cast actors get it right? We know that the extreme womanizing is fiction, but not Mark’s involvement with Sean Parker (played brilliantly by Justin Timberlake), the co-founder of Napster (so dubbed because of his curly hair). He finds, according to the film, Mark on Facebook so that he can objectify his brilliant book, the Facebook. And in one cool scene he quips to Mark to “drop the ‘the’–it’s cleaner.”
That which is nonfiction, in this film, the pitting of two lone Jews against twin rich WASP Harvard crew members is set in stark black and white terms all the way to England. There is no grey zone in stealing the Facebook formula from the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler (Arnie Hammer in dual roles). Mark’s stealing however does not end with them.
He just can’t control himself and his strong passionate will goes beyond the pale when he throws Eduardo under the bus while he is busy beating the bushes in New York City for advertisers. While on the West coast Mark and Sean are drumming up investors to launch the offices of Facebook in Palo Alto country. Living on the posh Camino Real exit Mark cooks up the Facebook in its final form by adding the wall, reincorporating, setting stock percent shares, dropping “the” and hawking ads on a Website that will bring him billions.
Like unfettered faces of cute babies you don’t want to miss, so too the hacking, evasive, boy-genius Mark is a sight to behold. Einsenberg’s Mark lights up the screen with a very dark brooding image. He speaks a distinct monotone and aims his deadpan delivery of scorching, sarcastic lines to everyone he encounters. He works hard to make people hate him. And they do. Like most smart people he and those around him talk at light speed, every word a strike and the repartee bordering on brilliant at times from these accidental billionaires. So be careful you don’t accidentally miss this film. It will make you smarter. Run time 121 minutes, rated R for sex, drug use, language.