Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Social Network Review

Maybe everything does start with sex. I mean we're conceived by the act of sex. And according to the film, The Social Network, Facebook was conceived from a site comparing the attractiveness of females. Written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) which is based on the book, The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich and directed by David Fincher, (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) The Social Network is the story of the founding of Facebook and its creators.

It's 2003. After being dumped by his girlfriend for being an arrogant snob, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in a drunken fit creates a website called Facemash that compares the attractiveness of female Harvard students. Hacking into various student databases, he posts pictures of females pittting them against each other with usesrs determining if they're hot. The website becomes so popular that it crashes Harvard's computer network. It becomes the inspiration for Facebook. For the stunt, Zuckerberg is given six months probation. Later, Harvard students, the Winklevoss twins ask Zuckerberg to create a social networking website for Harvard. With the financial help of his best friend, Edurado Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Zuckerberg creates Facebook. It starts out as a Harvard University social networking program but later the two expand it to other schools.

The Social Network is not just about creating computer code, it's a character study. Saverin is trying to get into a prestigious club and make it with women. Zuckerberg is a super nerd, who's unable to get past the vestibule of one of Harvard's exclusive clubs but whose computer brilliance is the driving force of his ambition. Physically both are not the type of guys who will get sex on their looks. But its their intellectual talents which will deliver them to the promised land. Money. Sex. See sex does start everything.

In their attempt to seek investors, they meet with Napster's founder, Sean Parker. (Justin Timberlake) With a large appetite for hedonism, Parker is looking for the next big thing on the Internet. Enamored with Parker's attack on the music industry, Zuckerberg believes Parker can help them exploit Facebook. They expand the website and attact investors. However, Saverin does not trust Parker leading to tension between the three of them. At a party for Facebook's one millionth subscriber, Saverin discovers his credit for the social network has been deleted and his financial stake has been significantly reduced. This causes a lawsuit between Saverin and Zuckerberg.

The direction and acting are all excellent. Director Fincher's films many of the scenes with subdued lighting and colors reflecting the moral ambiguity of Zuckerberg. Fincher keeps the action moving with no lost energy. Impressive, considering that there's no explosions in the movie. Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as cold, intelligent and at times, he does show concern towards his best friend. Andrew Garfield is effective delivering a character who is cautious about where the company is going. Armie Hammer is perfect as the two rich and powerful Winklevoss twins. That's probably because Hammer is the great grandson of oil industrialist Armand Hammer. Justin Timberlake gives an effeminate and greedy take on Sean Parker. John Getz and David Selby play lawyers and they come off as genuine. The cast is perfect and everyone is believable.

Aaron Sorkin's script uses depositions from the two lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg by the Winklevoss twins and Saverin as a framing device. This is a novel and inspired way to deliver the narrative. As the lawyers question Zuckerberg and Saverin, the story is told in flashback. Dialogue sounds real. Even in scenes in which he introduces characters, none of it feels contrived. The irony is that Zuckerberg has virtually no social skills, yet he has created the ultimate social network for the twenty first century.

The Social Network is a story of greed, sex, and ambition. Zuckerberg is a brilliant computer programmer who became a billionaire. But the movie raises the question at what price. The Social Network is intelligent and superb filmmaking. The grade is A.

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