We’ll just get it out of the way right now—Facebook has been going down the drain with all their “new” profile changes as of late. But “face” it, we now live in a world where we keep up with our old friends online. When we meet a new friend, we don’t tell them “Call/text/email me”—we tell them “Facebook me.” That way of life is all the new rage in The Social Network, this awards season favorite about how the revolutionary website started from a Harvard dorm room to become an international brand enterprise. A dramatic account based on the nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, David Fincher directs a star ensemble cast and helps tell a tale of betrayal and power struggles between a few young entrepreneurs and entrepreneur wannabes.
Jesse Eisenberg brilliantly portrays Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. The main storyline of the film takes place at Harvard in 2003-2004 and opens with Mark and his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) in a rather lengthy but a little lightheartedly gripping break-up scene. Frustrated, angered, and with alcohol in his system, Mark trash-talks about her in his LiveJournal while also hacking into the campus network to obtain headshots of the entire student body. He, along with best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), create Facemash.com, a site where students rate which female undergrads are ‘hot or not,’ mostly to spite Erica. Despite dipping into bad water with Harvard administration for the security breach and the students with tarnished reputations due to Facemash, Mark realizes what his little idea could become, and takes giant steps to turn Facemash into Facebook. However, when a site like Facebook gains popularity, people that are involved in even the smallest ways want their share. The film is told through flashbacks during two depositions for lawsuits involving Mark—one against Eduardo and the other against the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and body double Josh Pence), who claim that Mark stole their idea for a similar networking site. Further complicating matters is the involvement of Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), a savvy businessman whose way of doing business doesn’t fare well particularly with Eduardo. The film also co-stars Rashida Jones, Brenda Song, Max Minghella, and Joseph Mazzello.
The Social Network shows that a zero-to-hero story isn’t without struggle, even though our “heroes” come off as unfriendly and intellectually and financially greedy bastards. The college experiences shown are only as real as Hollywood makes them to be with hazing, sex, beer, and drugs, but also offer the alternative geeky point of view from the eyes of our main characters, as well as the rise to business success at young ages. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is rich with wit, drama all around, and a dark yet intriguing story, exceptionally brought to life by the ensemble. Eisenberg gets to play the nerdy guy again (At least in major roles like in Adventureland and Zombieland), but the complexity and a curtain of somewhat evil mystique surrounding the Mark Zuckerberg character allows him to do something different—and he executes remarkably. However, it is relative newcomer Garfield (Set to play Peter Parker in the upcoming Spider Man reboot) that steals the show with his portrayal of Eduardo. His emotion is raw, and his outburst of it near the end is enough to warrant an Oscar nomination. Timberlake’s portrayal of Sean also rendered enough of a emotional connection to make me dislike him even more than Mark, which also carries over to real life because I’ll always be on Team “Justin, you’re overdue for new music.” But he made a decent contribution while the rest of the cast ranged from good to better.
The Social Network reaches out to and resonates with the audience in today’s technologically-driven world. While it may be true that XD and 3-D cinema make up the latest innovations in film, it is the subject matter of this movie that is truly representative of the 21st century. It may be power and money that drives Mark, Eduardo, Sean, the Winklevoss brothers, and the like, but it is really the Internet and what it could do for all of us that’s behind it. There is one scene in the movie where a character freaks out over her boyfriend not changing his relationship status on his Facebook profile and it makes one think: Is that what our society has come down to? Can a website really make a friendship or relationship as it can wreck it? While it widely is still a film about the evils of business, the general audience relates to Facebook, and thanks to what Fincher, Sorkin, and the cast has come together with and created, no wonder it has generated both awards buzz and raves from fans of film alike—and it is all much deserved.
I bet you’ll log into your Facebook right after this, or that you already have it open in another tab. Just somehow keep in mind that there was one hell of a story to where that came from.
OVERALL SCORE: 9.5/10