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SOCIAL NETWORK, THE (director: David Fincher; screenwriters: Aaron Sorkin/based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich; cinematographer: Jeff Cronenweth; editors: Angus Wall/Kirk Baxter; music: Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross; cast: Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg), Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin), Justin Timberlake (Sean Parker), Armie Hammer (Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss), Max Minghella (Divya Narendra), Josh Pence (Tyler Winklevoss, body double), Rooney Mara (Erica Albright), Brenda Song (Christy), Rashida Jones (Marylin Delpy), John Getz (Sy), David Selby (Gage), Denise Grayson (Gretchen), Douglas Urbanski (Larry Summers), Aaron Sorkin (Ad Executive), James Shanklin (Prince Albert), Joseph Mazzello (Dustin Moskovitz), Patrick Mapel (Chris Hughes); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Scott Rudin/Dana Brunetti/Michael De Luca/ Cean Chaffin; Columbia Pictures; 2010)
“Makes a seemingly dry civil law suit story a fascinating sexy watch.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

David Fincher (“Fight Club”/”Seven”/”Zodiac”) makes a seemingly dry civil law suit story a fascinating sexy watch as he smartly directs in a rapid-fire pace this unauthorized pic that chronicles thehistory of Facebook; and he makes it more than a revenge of the nerd story or an old-fashioned American success story, by telling how the popular website changed the way Americans wanted to be viewed in their human interactions in the new age of technology and therefore taps into history in the making. Fincher enlivens the action-less story of sex, money and betrayal by his enticing visuals and his ability to get this story down as lucidly as possible and by getting into the heads of all the main characters (thereby vicariously getting into heads of all the users on Facebook).

It’s a fictionalized construct based on the facts found in the public records (using the court depositions of Zuckerberg, Saverin and the Winklevoss twins). It’s adapted from the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich and is cleverly written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing).

Facebook was created by the unlovable and insensitive Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), who as a result became the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of 25. He’s currently the CEO of a Facebook organization valued at $25 billion. Mark launched the site in 2003 when he was a 19-year-old sophomore with fellow Harvard undergrad Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), a Brazilian, who acted as the business head and provided early financing of the company and owned a thirty percent stake in it. When Mark moves to Silicon Valley and hooks up with the shifty Svengali-like wiseguy Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), he initiates a tricky stock reorganization in 2005 that unceremoniously removed the uncooperative Eduardo from the company through a double-cross. Not only was Mark sued successfully by Eduardo, but by the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler (both played by Armie Hammer), wealthy Harvard undergrads on the rowing team and connected with the elite Harvard clubs. Mark was recruited by the brawny twins to help them build a Harvard computer-dating service, and is accused by them of stealing their idea. At the conclusion, everyone was probably lying to make themselves look good, but it’s hard to walk away not feeling that the arrogant nerd and heel, Mark, is a bigger asshole than the other assholes and that in an odd way this perverse version of him as a lonely, brainy rat, suffering from paranoia and Jewish angst is more flattering than one would first like to think (after-all, it gives Mark recognition for obtaining the social status he always craved!).

The film’s powerful opening scene tells you all you want to know about Mark, who is on a date in a Boston pub with his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) from Boston University and the techie nerd can’t stop rapidly talking as he unloads on her as an intellectual inferior and obsesses on his desire to get tapped for one of Harvard’s elite “final clubs.” Erica exits and calls him an asshole. The bruised ego nerd retaliates back at his dorm room in his blog by calling her a flat-chested bitch. Mark then hacks into the Harvard student photo files of its coeds and has the viewers obnoxiously rank them according to looks, which gets 22,000 hits in just a few hours and the attention of Harvard security to close down the site. Thereby the bruised ego nerd goes on to create a social network because he was rejected by the girl he liked, and relieves his frustrating social life by becoming filthy rich and famous and thumbing his nose at all those who rejected him.

I never bought into Facebook’s idea of giving every individual his own Facebook page as anything more than providing the possibility of an invasion of privacy and a kinda drug to hide behind to shield one’s loneliness and inability to relate with others in the real world, and therefore never became a user (an interesting drug term that signifies you’re a Facebook member).

Jesse Eisenberg’s amazing tour-de-force performance gets under the skin of his driven character and allows us to see how his anti-social character was motivated to create a means of sharing by his alienation, jealousy, ambition, and a desire to beat others to the ideas he grasped were in the air at the time to change the way people related to others in this new century where the Internet is so much a part of one’s life and personal contact is sometimes so frustrating that it leaves deep psychological scars. Another great performance was achieved in a supporting role by Andrew Garfield, that shows how his character made Mark so jealous when the Harvard final club rejected him but accepts Eduardo, which as the film indicates might very well be the reason Mark so brutally betrays Eduardo and takes his social network idea to another level.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”