Perhaps only a brilliant genius who is completely lacking in social etiquette or awareness could have created a computer program to reductively encapsulate all social connections like Facebook. As David Fincher’s new movie, The Social Network sees him, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook was a guy who saw just about everything in black and white or 0s and 1s and found a way to apply that to social interactions. To those he knew in his own social circles, his constant 1 and 0 was that he is right and anyone else is wrong.
Quite refreshingly, the movie opens not with a typical shot that captures the movie’s setting but with a seven-minute-long conversational scene in a bar between Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). He praises the virtues of final clubs in Harvard and his condescension towards her in doing so is almost unbearable to watch. He hardly allows a chance to complete the expression of a responsive thought. She is finally fed up with his constant sense of territoriality in intelligence (“You will get to meet people you will not meet otherwise”) and an even harsher, licentious accusation that she promptly breaks up with him.
This sets the tone for the movie that is a breathless series of conversations played like a strategic chess game with verbal offenses. This is a trademark of writer Aaron Sorkin who specializes in dialogue between people who throw words like daggers but a bit surprising from director David Fincher who is an almost tightly wound, rigorous visual artist. Their collaboration gels here though into a fascinating whole without one upstaging the other.
After the break-up, Mark goes back to his Harvard dorm, gets a little drunk and blogs defamatory remarks about his ex-girlfriend. He also creates a program called “Facemash,” which will hack in and find all photos of college females in the Harvard dorms, compare two of them at a time side by side, and allow the user to pick which one is hotter. To complete this, he gets the help of his roommate and best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), who had previously invented an algorithm for ranking chess players. The program becomes such a sensation that it ultimately crashes the university servers.