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Review: The Social Network

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

The Jist: Mark Zuckerberg invents Facebook, becomes a billionaire.  Also, he’s a jerk.

Rating: 5 “likes” out of 5

When I woke up this morning The Social Network had its own Facebook page and was trending on Twitter. Think about it – a movie about Facebook is on Facebook and called the The Social Network is taking over social networks. It’s like the Inception of internets. Mind sufficiently blown? Mine too.

When I first heard about the “Facebook movie” I’m not sure I could have been less interested – stories about twenty-something year old self made billionaires tend to remind me that I’m not one.  But on finding outAaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men wrote it and David Fincher (Fight Club, upcoming Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) I couldn’t not give it a chance.

And then the reviews came in. Here’s a list of movies The Social Network has been compared to:

The Network
All the President’s Men
The Insider
Michael Clayton
The God Father
The Graduate
Citizen Kane
There Will be Blood

Not bad right?

The Social Network tells the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s transformation from computer hacker to boy-billionaire Facebook creator and the ruthless means he took to get there. The film is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, which has been vehemently disputed by the real Zuckerberg as completely fictitious; however, makes for a compelling story of betrayal and subterfuge on the way to the top, and is expertly adapted from novel to screen by Sorkin and Fincher.

Jesse Eisenberg, in my view a poor man’s Michael Cera in films like Adventureland and Zombieland, delivers the performance of his young – and now promising – career as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  Eisenberg plays Sorkin’s version of Zuckerberg to perfection; self-involved, ambitious, jealous and arrogant, at one point noting to an opposition lawyer that,

“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”

And yet, Eisennberg manages to portray the slightest hint of loneliness that always seems to accompany true genius, allowing the audiences a degree of empathy and making it impossible to completely hate him.

Supporting Eisenberg are brilliant performances by (and I can’t believe I’m about to say this either) Justin Timberlake (The Love Guru) as Napster co-founder Sean Parker, and Andrew Garfield (The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus) as original Facebook business manager and financier Eduardo Saverin, who deliver some of the most tense scenes in the film, clashing over the business direction of Facebook, and setting up, as catalyst and victim, the most surprising act of betrayal in the film.

Not to be left out is Armie Hammer’s (Reaper) role as the crew-rowing Winklevoss twins – who allegedly came up with the idea for Facebook, and Rooney Mara’s (Nightmare on Elm Street) understated performance as the humanizing girlfriend Erica Albright whom Zuckerberg tries to win back after being dumped 5 minutes into the film. Hammer nails my favourite of the film when questioning if he and his jock brother should simply beat Zuckerberg up for stealing their idea, “Why not? I’m 6’5, 220 pounds and there’s two of me!”

Accompanying the film is the subtle music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with the perfect mix of classical and contemporary music, hitting the perfect ending note with the Beatles ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man” with a shot of Zuckerberg on his laptop awaiting a response to his friend request to Albright as the film fades to black.

Perhaps the most impressive feat of the film is in all two hours there wasn’t a single explosion, gunshot, or car chase and yet it was compelling, entertaining and even suspenseful right to the end.

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