Is it possible that the co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the kid who brought 500 million people together and became the youngest billionaire on the planet, is actually the loneliest person on our globe? In “The Social Network,” the much debated film from David Fincher, Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is portrayed as just that.
By tapping into Zuckerberg’s story, Fincher, director of “Seven” and “Fight Club,” has managed to make a film that is kinetic yet never out of control. His command of the story is never lost in the whirlwind that was Facebook in its infancy.
With an ingenious screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, the scribe of the “West Wing” and many other TV, film and stage triumphs, “The Social Network” moves at a rapid pace with his hyper-articulate dialogue at center stage.
And while the film is billed as “based on” Ben Mezrich’s best-selling “The Accidental Billionaires,” it has been reported that Sorkin did his own research and went in a different direction.
The movie begins with Harvard student Zuckerberg, aptly played by Eisenberg, getting dumped by his girlfriend, going back to his dorm, blogging, and hacking into the student database in order to start Facemash – the Harvard version of HotorNot.com. Facemash went viral, receiving 22,000 views in two hours before university security shut it down.
Facemash catches the attention of three Harvard students: the Winklevoss twins, Tyler (Josh Pence) and Cameron (Armie Hammer), and their classmate Divya Narendra (Max Minghella). The three have an idea to use the internet to connect Harvard women and men, so they hire Zuckerberg to do their programming for them. Or at least that’s their version of the truth.
Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), a classmate of Zuckerberg’s and his only friend, provided the seed money for what was to become Facebook, and he also has his own version of what went down when he was tossed out of the Facbook windfall as well.
Mix in Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster, and we end up with two lawsuits against Zuckerberg and many different versions of the truth about who this enigmatic internet entrepreneur is, how he started Facebook, and more importantly, why? Did Zuckerberg do it to create his own club to compensate for years of being pushed into lockers, ignored by girls and rejected by the right clubs?
Zuckerberg, as played by Eisenberg, is first introduced as an unlikable, arrogant kid who is as socially awkward as he is smart. Most billionaires are the envy of the world, yet Eisenberg’s version of Zuckerberg is often sad and disturbing. Eisenberg has had a string of well-acted roles in recent years, but he really morphs himself into this character to portray the nuances of this complex 19-year-old as he becomes a man.
Timberlake is slowly proving he may have some acting chops and Garfield stands toe-to-toe with Eisenberg through each intense scene.
“The Social Network” is nothing less than stunning. On the surface, it merely seems to be a look into the world right before hyper connectivity exploded into our collective consciousness. But with the right ingredients—an impeccable cast, a nearly flawless screenplay, and Fincher’s innate sense of timing—this film rises to instant classic.