The Social Network
Who would have thought the story of Facebook could be so fascinating? As it turns out the creator of the biggest social networking site possesses the social skills of Travis Bickle, at least according to David Fincher’s riveting new hit The Social Network.
I’ve always personally hated Mark Zuckerberg. Everything I heard about him, from why he started Facebook, to the lawsuits, to what Facebook has become were reason enough to assume he was a grade-A douche-bag. So going into The Social Network, especially considering all that was written about Zuckerberg’s portrayal in the film in the press, I was expecting to see a monster.
So then why did I find myself rooting for the character? The Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network is a genius, an outcast, and in some ways, even a bad-ass. It is not his fault he was born without any hint of social graces. He did not steal Facebook from anyone, it is solely his. Sure he played some games with people and maybe took advantage of some other’s small ideas, turning them into his own big ones. If he did screw anyone over, it was a bunch of spoiled Harvard jocks on the crew team. You know what? Those fuckers deserve it.
Zuckerberg is played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg. In my review of Zombieland I mentioned that Eisenberg was playing the Michael Cera role. Many others have made this comparison as well. The Social Network shows that Eisenberg is much more than a Cera replacement, but a terrific actor. Cera is already old-news, Eisenberg has a bright future. Here he creates a snappy wit along with subtle physical quirks that bring the character fully to life. A Best Actor nomination come Oscar season may not be out of the question.
The other notable performance comes via pop-icon Justin Timberlake as Napster creator Sean Parker. Parker comes into the film as a sort-of Obi-Wan Kenobi to Zuckerberg’s Luke Skywalker. He’s got the inside knowledge to help Zuckerberg turn Facebook into the billion-dollar industry it becomes. Timberlake plays Parker as a flashy, arrogant, partier that is eager to use Eisenberg and Facebook as a way to stick his middle finger at the suits in Silicon Valley that tried to bring him down. It’s kind of interesting that Parker is played by Timberlake, who during the time of Napster’s war against recording artists was at the top of the charts.
The screenplay, adapted by Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson’s War), is ripe with absolutely wonderful dialogue. It can’t be easy to make a bunch of geek-speak amongst Harvard nerds sound so damn entertaining.
For Fincher, the film marks a return to form after his ridiculous Forrest Gump knock-off of 2008. It is shot beautifully with zero fluff. It merely tells the story, and tells it damn well.
Mark Zuckerberg, now 26 years old, is one of the wealthiest men in the world. You don’t get there without dicking some people over. Too bad. The bottom line is he created a web site that changed the way people communicate, plain and simple. I’m on Facebook, you are on Facebook, even my grandfather is on facebook. The guy may be an asshole, but give him some credit, it’s quite an accomplishment.