At first glance, a film about the creation of Facebook doesn't sound like something anybody would want to see, no matter how dramatic it is. Throw in Aaron Sorkin on screenwriting duties and David Fincher in the director's chair and it begins to take shape. Cast the immensely likable Jesse Eisenberg in the lead role and you've got something worthy of people's attention.
The Social Network is about a lot of things and the creation of Facebook is simply the backdrop. It's about right and wrong, friendship and betrayal, and power and money. Going to school at the prestigious Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) is obsessed with exclusivity. He wants to get into the best groups at school only because so few people get in. He's also something of a whiz at computer programming, and one night, while drunk, he creates FaceMash, a website where male students can compare the attractiveness of female students. The site ends up getting him in hot water with both Harvard and all of the girls in attendance, but also gets the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Arnie Hammer) and their business partner Divya Narenda (Max Minghella).
The trio hire Mark to create a social network called the Harvard Connection. What sets the Harvard Connection apart from other sites like Friendster and MySpace. Exclusivity. Only students at Harvard can join. This is something that intrigues Mark, and he begins creating what will eventually become Facebook.
Everything that happens after this point is one giant gray area, which is what makes the film so fascinating. It will inspire conversations and debates, as all great conflict does. I don't know how accurate this film is to the actual events, and I don't care. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) has said in interviews that he's more concerned with telling a good story than he is with reciting the facts. Some people may have a problem with this. I don't, because he and director David Fincher have created a fantastic movie. There are no clear cut good or bad guys, there's just a lot of shady characters with different motives and goals.
Jesse Eisenberg has always been a likable actor and he's enjoyed a good amount of time in the spotlight recently, with his most notable role being the lead in Zombieland. But prior success be damned, this is his breakthrough role. As Zuckerberg, he inspires a wide range of emotions, such as pity and contempt, while displaying very few. Throughout most of the movie he seems indifferent to what is happening around him, too focused on his budding social network to care. But he does care, which is important to his character, because he's really not a bad guy.
Andrew Garfield, the relatively unknown American-British actor who was recently cast as the lead in Sony's upcoming Spider-Man reboot, does a phenomenal job as Eduardo Saverin, Mark's former friend as Facebook co-founder. The turmoil that Saverin is put through is absolutely heartbreaking and Garfield has no problem selling the role.
The Social Network, like many have said, is one of the best movies of 2010. It's as riveting as dramas get and its stellar cast elevate it to classic heights.
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