The Social Network
Every age has its visionaries who leave, in the wake of their genius, a changed world—but rarely without a battle over exactly what happened and who was there at the moment of creation. The Social Network explores the moment at which Facebook was invented—through the warring perspectives of the super-smart young men who each claimed to be there at its inception.
The film moves from the halls of Harvard to the cubicles of Palo Alto to capture the heady early days of a culture-changing phenomenon in the making—and the way it both pulled a group of young revolutionaries together and then split them apart. In the midst of the chaos are Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), the brilliant Harvard student who conceived a website; Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), once Zuckerberg’s close friend, who provided the seed money for the fledgling company; Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) who brought Facebook to Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists; and the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence), the Harvard classmates who asserted that Zuckerberg stole their idea and then sued him for ownership of it. Each has his own narrative, his own version of the Facebook story in this multi-level portrait of 21st Century success—both the youthful fantasy of it and its finite realities as well.
They all laughed at college nerd Mark Zuckerberg, whose idea for a social-networking site made him a billionaire. And they all laughed at the idea of a Facebook movie—except writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher, merely two of the more extravagantly talented filmmakers around. Sorkin and Fincher’s breathless picture, The Social Network, is a fast and witty creation myth about how Facebook grew from Zuckerberg’s insecure geek-at-Harvard days into a phenomenon with 500 million users. Sorkin frames the movie around two lawsuits aimed at the lofty but brilliant Zuckerberg (deftly played by Adventureland’s Jesse Eisenberg): a claim that he stole the idea from Ivy League classmates, and a suit by his original, now slighted, business partner (Andrew Garfield). The movie follows a familiar rise-and-fall pattern, with temptation in the form of a sunny California Beelzebub (an expert Justin Timberlake as former Napster founder Sean Parker) and an increasingly tangled legal mess. Emphasizing the legal morass gives Sorkin and Fincher a chance to explore how unsocial this social-networking business can be, although the irony seems a little facile. More damagingly, the film steers away from the prickly figure of Zuckerberg in the latter stages—and yet Zuckerberg presents the most intriguing personality in the movie, even if the movie takes pains to make us understand his shortcomings. Fincher’s command of pacing and his eye for the clean spaces of Aughts-era America are bracing, and he can’t resist the technical trickery involved in turning actor Armie Hammer into privileged Harvard twins (Hammer is letter-perfect). Even with its flaws, The Social Network is a galloping piece of entertainment, a smart ride with smart peopleâ¦ who sometimes do dumb things. —Robert Horton
Original Score created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (NIN, How To Destroy Angels).