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The Social Network

October 6, 2010

In 2004 a sophomore at Harvard University created a social networking site that then allowed only Harvard students to meet, befriend and capture college life through it. “The Facebook” soon took off in popularity, expended its users, and is now the most used social networking site with a bragging rate of 500 million users. Its creator Mark Zuckerberg, a self proclaimed hacker whose intent is to “break things to make them better,” is now the world’s youngest billionaire and recently donated $100 million to the Newark, NJ school system last month. All in all, Zuckerberg seems like a swell gentleman that is before viewing The Social Network.

This year in film has been a slow one in regards to Academy Award quality however David Fincher’s dark and thrilling portrayal of the creation of Facebook undoubtedly deserves murmurs of Oscar nods and wins. With an intelligent and fast paced script from “The West Wing” writer Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network portrays Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) not as the socially aware philanthropist but instead an arrogant youth whose quest to make Facebook an empire was fueled by his need for acceptance and his jealousy of others including his best friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).

Audiences are exposed to an awkward unpopular sophomore who initially drunkenly created, allowing male students to rate their female peers while he toyed with the idea of ranking the women against farm animals. The success the site crashed Harvard’s server and introduces Zuckerberg to a slew of enemies as well as potential business partners rowing team twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and Divya Narenda. In need of a software programmer to create their networking site “The Harvard Connection”, the trio recruits Zuckerberg for help. Agreeing to be part of their team Zuckerberg instead begins tweaking his idea of a new social network enlisting money and help from Eduardo. As the site becomes a phenomenon, the story diverts its attention from Zuckerberg’s empire to the affects his site has on him and his surrounding friends and enemies.

In classic Fincher style, The Social Network’s mood is dark and cryptic from its heavy use of low key lighting and shades. At times the film comes off as a neo-noir bringing a thrilling and mischievous vibe that works with the atmosphere of dishonesty and mistrust throughout. Sorkin’s script is quick, intelligent and snarky making the language between characters at times esoteric as it is needed for believable conversation between computer science and business majors.

Performances from the main actors are astoundingly just a snarky and intelligent as the film’s words. While Eisenberg portrays the film’s villain, he brings an endearing empathic quality to Zuckerberg that remains until the film’s final scene. Justin Timberlake impressively depicts Napster co-founder and one time Facebook President Shawn Parker, an arrogant, delusional youth caught up in a lavish lifestyle while Garfield is just as impressive as Mark’s supportive and ultimately betrayed best friend.

It almost feels unfair to single out a few actors for their merit considering nearly every major character pulls their weight in notable performances. Everything about The Social Network moves in perfect sync and harmony with each other from the cleverly placed editing that creates non-linear narration to the beautifully haunting score done by musician Trent Reznor. The Social Network is an example of a fine character study that also brings this generation’s infatuation with social media and need to invade privacy to light.


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