David Fincher’s latest film examines the beginnings of The Facebook and specifically who Zuckerberg is. Just like Citizen Kane was a harsh examination of William Randolph Hearst while he was still in power, The Social Network does not paint Zuckerberg in a positive light. The film covers two major lawsuits attacking Zuckerberg for stealing the idea for the website and sabotaging those working with him.
Before any of that starts, the film opens with an eight-minute scene where Mark is dumped by his girlfriend (Rooney Mara). Dialog extraordinaire Aaron Sorkin controls the scene with such power and punch that a long scene between two people who are sitting becomes one of my favorite scenes of the year. This causes Mark to get drunk and spend hours to start a website inviting Harvard University to compare the attractiveness of its college girls.
Overnight the site became so popular it crashed the Harvard website. The impressive coding required for the site caught the eyes of the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer). They want to create an elusive club for the internet that captures the social experience of college. Then things become morally questionable.
Jesse Eisenberg is pitch perfect as the antisocial Zuckerberg. His bitterness and lack of sensitivity makes him a great villain or the perfect tragic hero. As the story goes into unpredicted turns, Eisenberg keeps control of his character to focus on the loneliness and the detachment. It is not a showy performance, but one that ought to be praised as the best of his career so far.
Truly everyone is on top of their game for this film. Fincher is only as good as his script and this is Sorkin’s return to The West Wing level of quality. Together they create a resonating film that holds as one of the highlights of their impressive careers. The structure of this film is exciting as it jumps around in time. There is no surprise in whether or not Facebook will successful, but it’s really what had to happen to get to that spot. Most people don’t know about Sean Parker’s involvement. That is a lot of fun thanks to a great performance by Justin Timberlake.
It is a film that examines what the modern social experience really is. Who really benefits from the online presence and does it really have reflections on reality? The film is very entertaining, but it will make you think twice about having a Facebook account. Much like the effect of Super Size Me, I doubt many people will stop doing using it but there will be a tinge of doubt every time you sign on.