Last Monday night (thanks to @cateowen and @reellatewithk8) I went to a preview of the film that more than 500 million people can relate to.
The Social Network, in case you’ve not heard, is the story of how Facebook was founded and the legal battles that ensued thereafter. The story of how Mark Zuckerberg started the phenomenon social networking site is told in flashbacks cutting over from the legal conversations, and Zuckerberg is not painted in a pretty light. His moral decisions are questionable but his determination, ambition and intellectual genius are undeniable.
The film gives us a decent keyhole peek into the lives of college students and the transition period from before anybody would think to say, “Facebook me!” until it became more than normal to write on walls and tag your friends in online photo albums.
One of the first questionable moral decisions that Zuckerberg makes is to delay the progress of The Harvard Connection site that the brawny, rowing Winklevoss twins had recruited him to build. In what could potentially be dismissed as geeky aloofness, Zuckerberg fails to make any headway with the project, but all the while he is secretly working on The Facebook.
The introduction of Justin Timberlake as Napster’s co-founder, Sean Parker adds a suave glaze to the geek-infested ambience. Yes, Timberlake can act, and along with Zuckerberg is given some of the more memorable lines of the film, including, “Drop the ‘the’. Just ‘Facebook’. It’s cleaner.”
Not that I’ve ever seen Zuckerberg in person, but Youtube interviews of him portray him as more normal and less nerdy than Eisenberg makes him out to be. His calm, precise depiction of Zuckerberg reminds me of someone who could (on a far smaller and non-psychopathic scale) be Patrick Bateman’s distant cousin – socially inept with an intriguing mind and uncertain of where the line between right and wrong lies.
The blurring of that line comes to a head when Zuckerberg double-crosses Eduardo Saverin (played by the charming Andrew Garfield). Even in my sympathy for Saverin I could not deny that I had mixed feelings toward Zuckerberg. His insensitive betrayal of Saverin is almost overshadowed by his ambition and will. You cannot help but admire the guy for having his eyes on the prize, however I did not feel as if Saverin was ever a threat to his success.
David Fincher’s skillful direction teamed with Aaron Sorkin’s sharp screenwriting make for a powerful unit but the first thought in my mind as I walked away from the cinema was merely, “Holy moly….Zuckerberg is younger than me and is worth BILLIONS!” Jealous much? Yes.
What you’ll take from this film, if nothing else is that Andrew Garfield has great hair, rowing twins are hot and some of the world’s most brilliant minds truly are in a league of their own.
The Social Network starts showing in New Zealand this Thursday, 11th of November.