Send friend request to ‘Social Network’

Scott Viau

When deciding to pick out a movie this weekend to enjoy, simply labeling “The Social Network” as that Facebook movie would be an insult to all who worked on the film. It is not a film about how popular, to put it lightly, Facebook has become, but one about jealousy, betrayal and the stepping stones one will use to gain exclusivity.

Cutting back and forth between the creation of Facebook and the eventual lawsuits that resulted from it, “Social” paints a portrait of Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) that is not entirely flattering. He’s awkward, socially inept and suffers from jealousy of the more elite people around him. He feels creating a social network that is exclusive to only those with a Harvard.edu e-mail address will gain him access to the influential organizations on campus.

Using the financial resources of his friend Eduardo Saverin (Garfield) and the programming skills of his roommates, Zuckerberg creates a site that takes the Harvard campus by storm. However, as the site grows, he soon faces accusations that he stole the idea from fellow students who had commissioned him to help build a dating site for Harvard students. The trouble does not end there, as Saverin soon finds his shares in the company have been drastically cut and decides to seek proper compensation.

The performances in this film are all electric. I had pegged Eisenberg as almost a one-trick pony, sort of on par with Michael Cera, but his performance as Zuckerberg is pitch-perfect. Anyone who has ever seen a YouTube clip of him will see just how much Eisenberg was able to capture Zuckerberg’s Asperger syndrome-like personality.

Garfield’s performance is, in a word, adorable. He portrays Saverin as the kind of person anyone would like to be friends with. He’s loyal, accommodating and always willing to help out. Garfield’s charismatic acting is what brings this character to life and is able to give it a bit of sweetness that helps balance Zuckerberg’s sour characteristics.  The casting of Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker was a stroke of genius. In the film, Zuckerberg views Parker as a sort of programming pop star, someone whom he looks up to and can learn from. What better way to accentuate this than cast Timberlake, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, to share this view with the audience.

While watching “Social,” it’s hard to not think that it’s somewhat ridiculous that a movie about Facebook  has actually been made. The truth of the matter, though, is that it’s done masterfully. Not only is “Social” extremely entertaining, but it brings to light the true nature of what friends may do to one another to get ahead. The focus of the film is not about Facebook, but the human drama surrounding it. Fincher once again proves what a master he is at directing. Although he’s best known for his suspense thrillers such as “Zodiac” and “Seven,” he is no less adept at crafting a film based on the founding of Facebook.

Sorkin’s script, which was adapted from the book “The Accidental Billionaires,” is airtight. Every scene is absolutely necessary. My only complaint would be the editing of the film, which goes between Zuckerberg’s time at Harvard and when he is being sued. The fast-paced nature of these cut-betweens is sometimes disorienting, but audience members will be able to catch up quickly. The greatest irony of “Social” is how Zuckerberg, who throughout the film shows just how distant he is with other people, was able to create a social network with over 500 million users.

Although the premise includes the most popular media device ever created, it does not diminish the powerful, moving and enraging story of a boy with an idea and the feet he stepped on to accomplish it.