Ah, Facebook… that online social network service where you can collect friends (most of whom you’ve never met or probably never will) like bottle caps and Poke and Super Poke them ad nauseum. Where you and your friends (those you actually know) can plan flash mob events and disrupt public places like malls and train stations and then tell everyone all about it via… . where else? Facebook.
But have you ever wondered how Facebook came about?
That is the focus of David Fincher’s latest film, The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin (of The West Wing fame, among others). It tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, brilliantly played by Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Adventureland), a student in Harvard who after being dumped by his girlfriend (played by Rooney Mara) sets about to find a new project to get him over his break-up grief.
Together with his best friend Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield), he creates a page called “FaceMash”, where male students gets to rate the hot-factor of their female peers, using pictures he obtained by hacking the campus database. This brought him to the attention of the Winklevoss Twins (played by non-twins Josh Pence and Arnie Hammer) and their business partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella ) who want him to help them build a new social networking site called Harvard Connection, to which Mark agreed (we see him in a scene later in the movie where testified in court saying he didn’t recall agreeing to it).
The film interchanges between Mark’s days as a student working on the format of Facebook and his deposition in court three years later following a suit by the Winklevoss Twins for intellectual property theft as well as a suit by Saverin over Facebook’s ownership.
This is one entertaining movie from start to finish. I’ve been a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing since A Few Good Men and his screenplay here is, as expected, sharp and witty. David Fincher’s direction is also above par and is on scale with his best works such as Fight Club and Seven.
The casting is inspired. I’ve seen Jesse Eisenberg’s performances before (the aforementioned Zombieland and Adventureland) and I have to say that this is his best work to date. The rest of the cast does an excellent job too, but the biggest surprise has to be Justin Timberlake as Napster’s co-founder Sean Parker; he practically steals every scene in which he is featured.
The Social Network has already generated Oscar buzz and rightly so. It is an entertaining look at the creation of one of the most significant web trends of the early 21st century. Whether it is absolutely true or partly fictionalized is beside the point. The storytelling alone is worthy of a multiple viewings. Definitely a “Like” in my book.
(Image credits: The Social Network movie)