Movie Review: David Fincher's The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara, Brenda Song and Rashida Jones (with video)

[image-1]Of course, Zuckerberg isn’t exactly bromancing it up, either. How is it that a slovenly, ill-tempered geek who’s quick to fire lacerating verbal commentary at his roomate Eduardo (Andrew Garfield, right with Eisenberg) managed to create a cultural phenomenon centered on friendship? Was it just that he was the smartest kid in the room at Harvard, thinking way ahead of everyone else? Or could it have been that he stole the idea from fellow students the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer in a truly seamless use of special effects), who partnered with Zuckerberg in the creation of a similar site called Harvard Connect? Maybe a little bit of both?

The Social Network uses depositions from two different lawsuits disputing the creation of Facebook as a frame for the story, which is told in a kind of Rashomon-lite style in which the testimony (compromised as it may be by each character’s prejudices) tells the tale. From Zuckerberg’s early days at Harvard (where he drew so much traffic to a website that he coded and posted in one night — while drunk! — that he crashed the school’s network) through his meeting of Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake, solidifying a future in acting) and the mushroom cloud of success that Facebook becomes, it’s clear that there is nothing but gray area to this story. If you’re looking for a definitive answer on whether or not Zuckerberg is a thief and a jerk, you’ll have to search elsewhere.

Fans of writer Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing) will absolutely melt as the zig-zag dialogue races out of the characters’ mouths, and speech after speech comes vividly to life. No one writes smart people better than Sorkin, and here he’s got nothing but geniuses to supply with witty banter. That the actors, especially Eisenberg and Garfield, not only keep up with the material but thoroughly own it, speaks to the incredibly high level of the performances. (Eisenberg, 27, plays the collegiate genius so convincingly he seems a lock for a Best Actor nomination.)

There's more to say about The Social Network, and I could go on at length about Trent Reznor's music, the picture-perfect cinematography and that amazing scene set in the oppressively loud dance club, but it's too much to cram into one review. Let's just say that director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac) has made his masterpiece. There are more noteworthy moments in this movie than in any five flicks released over the summer, with a plot that moves at broadband speed and requires discussion afterwards. That so many viewers will race to Facebook or other social media to do exactly that shows the brilliance of what Zuckerberg and friends created, and The Social Network is a worthy reflection of that genius.

The irony of David Fincher’s brilliant The Social Network is that a great tool for facilitating human interaction was created by a largely friendless dweeb with the social skills of a rock. The very first scene of the movie, an awkward bar date between future Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and a college lady friend (Rooney Mara), ends with the cute co-ed explaining that girls don’t like him not because he’s a smart nerd, but because he’s a complete asshole. Ouch.

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