The Social Network - Movie Review
The Social Network
Maybe it was the overwhelming sense of pure ambition, but the film The Social Network might as well have been a modern retelling of The Fountainhead. True, with the architect in this case being Mark Zuckerberg, who built his skyscraper of Facebook on the digital foundation of the internet and has yet to see it fall. It's quite a wonder to see an invention go from an idea to a universally known verb, especially when it happens so quickly. This is however, a story of ambition, how ambition can be fiercely opposed by both enemies and friends, and how that ambition can tragically turn to isolation.
The story begins with a harsh break-up between Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Erica Albright. Mark's mind is simply focused on something else and that something else turns into the vengeful "Facemash," a hot-or-not photo comparison site that narrowed down the women of Harvard from most attractive to least. It was as successful as it was inappropriate, just like most terrible things on the internet. Although he very well could have gone on to create the next "two girls one cup," instead Zuckerberg was approached by a group of Harvard crew members to create a private online network for students of the university. Suddenly the idea for an online gated community outside the sketchy slums of MySpace became planted in Zuckerberg's mind, and he ran with it. And since he was doing all the hard work himself, he left the crew boys to fend for themselves.
So the story of the social network is structured around the various legal battles that ensued after Facebook.com rose to success (after it changed from TheFacebook.com). Had it only been a legal drama this film would have only been vaguely interesting, but the film packs an emotional punch with those who invested their friendship in the leader of Facebook. Namely Eduardo (played by Andrew Garfield), who stuck with Facebook from the beginning until the Napster elite Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) began chiming in and Eduardo's own legal battle entered the playing field.
The script is long (approximately 166 pages), but the actors are fast (cutting the runtime down to 121 minutes). Words are spit out faster than even Twitter could handle, but their impact is somehow never lost. That might just be a reflection upon how good these actors really are. There are plenty of memorable speeches here, but I couldn't help but think of the somewhat recent film August which featured Josh Hartnett in the role of an internet start-up millionaire whose bubble bursts just after he realizes that his internet company doesn't actually "do" anything at all. This movie is better, to be honest (although August does feature a pretty sweet cameo of David Bowie), but those looking for a film further down The Social Network alley might find it worth exploring.
As far as the "true story" behind Facebook is concerned, The Social Network may very well take its share of liberties. Considering that few people actually know what those liberties are, and I myself didn't really question any of the actions as completely fabricated, it's really beside the point. This is a story filled with characters, some social and some rather antisocial, and the hands they played in the construction of a network that surpassed all others.