This round: THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Two college students sit facing each other in a crowded bar over the guitar blasts of the White Stripes’ “Ball and Biscuit.” The boy refuses to make eye contact with the girl across from him and talks rapidly without watching his words about his date, pushing her over the edge ever so slightly. The conversation blows up and the girl dumps him and leaves. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook.
This brutal shot leading into The Social Network leads Zuckerberg to walk home angrily and to create a program that compares the girls of Harvard against each other as revenge. The program crashes Harvard’s servers and leads Zuckerberg to create social-networking Web site Facebook with his only friend Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield.
One of the smartest ideas director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin use are the scenes cut between the inception of Facebook and the legal fallout that occurs after the boom in popularity. The audience sees Zuckerberg face the Winklevoss twins, fellow students who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea, and his friend Saverin in lawsuits juxtaposed against the origin scenes of Facebook. During the movie everyone knows that Zuckerberg will betray his only friend at some point, but the suspense builds as the audience looks and waits for this event.
Although the plot holds serious stakes for its characters, the script still allows a light-hearted tone at times and gives a few laughs with a chicken fiasco and a crazy girlfriend attack on Saverin, the heart of the film. Zuckerberg’s lightning dialogue also crackles on the screen, as he continues to claim, “I’m not a bad guy” while disproving this statement in everything he does. Young actor Jesse Eisenberg, known for Zombieland and The Squid and the Whale, plays Facebook’s creator with extreme ambition and a need for control.
The film shifts when Zuckerberg moves the company to California after meeting in New York with Napster creator Sean Parker, a young party boy who appears to have learned how to spend money pretty quickly as he shells for martinis and lobsters in a hurry. Justin Timberlake plays Parker as a guy who knows everything there is to know about startup online companies while still making mistakes with drugs and underage girls.
It is sad to watch Facebook come to popularity with the girls at Harvard and other schools knowing that these guys who created it are clueless when it comes to women. Zuckerberg never gets another shot at love after the opening break-up of the movie. Thinking about all of the repercussions to have resulted from girls using Facebook and the initial Fasemash program that crashed Harvard’s network, it is all to easy to assume that Zuckerberg got his revenge.
Something has to be said for David Fincher’s directing in this movie. He uses a rapid succession of scenes to mirror the speed of Facebook’s creation, and his camera shots are smooth and crisp without reaching for anything too crazy. This is a movie based in reality, and Fincher’s methods help ground it. Sorkin’s script keeps the dialogue rolling like a steam engine, and the score by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor gives a menacing edge to the film.
In a world filled with business suits and laptops, beers and Red Bulls, two friends create a Web site together before watching it blow up into a hub connecting 500 million people. The fact that this movie focuses more on one friend throwing the other to the wolves rather than the happiness that comes with Facebook and its daily use gives a familiar human touch to a film about business. The actors put in spectacular performances and the writing keeps the viewer sucked into the story.
- Landon Briggs, 12/12/10