For many of us, our daily routines include visiting a certain popular website to update our statuses and visit with friends and family. We write notes and clever asides about our allergies and our pets, discuss our likes and dislikes, and reject friend requests from that douchebag we totally hated in high school and swore to never talk to again. Then we send our own friend request to that same douchebag a couple of months later.
Apparently, we do all this because Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg got dumped in a college bar and couldn’t get into the cool clubs at Harvard.
Whether or not this is even close to the truth about Zuckerberg, it makes for an immensely entertaining premise in The Social Network, a scathing indictment of our current impatient and constantly exposed society, and another masterpiece from director David Fincher.
Aaron Sorkin’s wicked screenplay suggests that Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg in a star-making performance) was an arrogant and self-serving weasel who stabbed a few backs on his way to creating his web empire and becoming the world’s youngest billionaire.
The film’s primary conflict is between Zuckerberg and college friend Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield, the next Spider-Man), who gave Zuckerberg some money during startup and became the first CFO for the website. We see Saverin and Zuckerberg dueling with lawyers after Facebook has gone through the roof, and flashbacks to events that got the two former friends into a bitter and expensive legal war.
In yet another lawsuit, the Winklevoss twin brothers, Cameron and Tyler (both played by Armie Hammer), also sued Zuckerberg, claiming he stole their idea for a social network after they hired him to develop a site. Sorkin’s screenplay pretty much shows this as fact and history.
Eisenberg and Garfield are one of the better screen pairings you will see this year. When things start to go bad between them, especially after Napster cofounder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) enters the picture, the movie goes into the stratosphere.
A moment when Zuckerberg and Saverin are fighting is one of Eisenberg’s best in the movie. As Garfield’s Saverin verbally blasts him, Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg just stares with a look on his face that spells out fear about what he has become, acceptance that he has gone full-tilt evil, and sorrow about losing his friend. Yes, Eisenberg manages to get all of this across with one simple look on his face, and it’s a thing of beauty.
Timberlake’s Parker is a party boy convinced that his Napster idea destroyed the music industry (a theory that actually has a lot of merit to it). His dinner scene with Zuckerberg and Saverin, culminating in a pivotal moment when Parker makes a brilliant and simple suggestion regarding the website’s name, is proof that Timberlake has big-time acting chops and deserves Oscar consideration.
The film contains one of the best visual effects Fincher has ever put to film, and it’s so good I didn’t notice it. While Armie Hammer’s face and voice play both Winklevoss twins, an actor named Josh Pence’s body was used for the portrayal of Tyler. Hammer’s face was then seamlessly added to Pence’s body to create the illusion of identical twins. This is absolutely astonishing.
Not forgetting his roots, Fincher employs Trent Reznor to do the moody soundtrack. Reznor, who contributed memorably to the opening credits of Fincher’s Se7en, collaborates with Atticus Ross for a score that is as much a part of the film as Eisenberg and Timberlake.
Somewhere in this world, there must be a slightly miffed, quite young billionaire watching this film on the fucking hugest flat-screen ever, perhaps slightly miffed that millions of people are currently seeing a movie that basically depicts him as Judas Iscariot Jackhole. I guess he’ll just have to buy himself a large continent or a solid gold space station to staunch the flow of misery stemming from this highly engaging cinematic humiliation.