When I heard that Columbia Pictures studio was making a movie about Facebook I couldn’t have been more underwhelmed. But after seeing multiple trailers, hearing critics and audiences alike rave about the performances, my friends and I went to see The Social Network.
I could not have been more pleasantly surprised with the film. It has been heralded as the movie of the year, has garnered over $62 million at the box office, and currently has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. After seeing The Social Network, I could not disagree with any of the praise the film has received.
The power of this film lies in the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (whose screenwriter credits include A Few Good Men, The West Wing, and Charlie Wilson’s War). The story is constructed through a series of flashbacks between differing legal depositions accusing Zuckerberg of various business misdoings, including intellectual property theft.
Sorkin’s amazing script provides a great sense of character focus and development. At the center, obviously, is Zuckerberg. The portrayal by Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Adventureland) as Zuckerberg is the defining role of the actor’s bright and up and coming career. The audience gets to see Zuckerberg’s great programming talent in a drunken state after his girlfriend dumps him. Out of spite, he hacks Harvard’s dorm files to create a comparison website which rates girls’ “hotness” against each other.
As seen through the depositions, Zuckerberg is a brilliant intellectual who allows his narcissism to push away anyone near him. The prime example is Eduardo Saverin, his only friend at Harvard. He financially sponsored Mark’s initial launch of Facebook. When Mark moves operations to Northern California, Eduardo goes to New York to try to find investors for the new website. Unfortunately for Eduardo, his decision to stay behind would leave him the dust.
The main reason was the direction Facebook was moving under the counsel of Sean Parker, founder of Napster, played by Justin Timberlake. Surprisingly, Timberlake excels in this role and shows some legitimate acting chops. Parker has big plans, not only for the company, but also for Zuckerberg, and wants to transform this website into a billion dollar corporation. Due to some bad decisions, Parker is forced to step aside, mainly because Zuckerberg doesn’t want to risk further error.
Under the direction of director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac, Se7en), The Social Network refuses to just become a movie about the creation of Facebook. It is a movie about power and the way we communicate today. These depositions against Zuckerberg are for millions of dollars, but more than that it is about credit and the prestige that comes with being recognized. All of the major players in this process want power and respect for the creation of once in a lifetime contribution.
Beside power, this film explores how society communicates. With this new social network the whole idea of conversation changes. E-conversation becomes how much we can say in a status update and what we choose to say on a friend’s wall. Facebook changed, and continues to change, the way people share ideas with friends, as well as the rest of the network.