When I first heard of The Social Network I thought “Facebook the movie? What’s the point?” This impression stayed with me for a good long while. It seemed like there was nothing that needed saying in a film about facebook and it was just being made because Facebook had become “The in thing” and would be a sure thing. To be fair I’m not sure I’ve shaken that impression but at least there’s a decent story involved and it’s not just some cheap cash in.
The story centres around Mark Zuckerberg and the 2 law suits he fought after Facebook became popular. One from his friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin and one from twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. The story is framed from the point of view of the depositions for both cases. The film starts in a pub with Mark and his girlfriend Erica having a discussion about which Final Club Mark should try to join. The dialogue shines right from the very start, as you’d expect from a film written by Aaron Sorkin, with the conversation going between two or three threads quickly and entertainingly while giving you the basic information you need to know about Mark’s character and the surrounding culture at Harvard. In this exchange Mark unwittingly insults Erica and ends up dumped and returns to his room to get drunk and demonstrate his mad programming and poor social skills by simultaneously drunkenly posting about Erica being a bitch and her having a small rack that’s given some help by her Victoria Secrets bra which he classes as “False advertising” and hacking all of Harvard’s groups Face Book sites. He then brings down Harvard’s network by creating a website to compare 2 girls against each other and say which is hotter and drives enough traffic to bring it down at 4 in the morning.
After this he is approached by the “Winklevi” as he calls them, to create a website to let guys with a Harvard.edu email address post profiles to attract women. He takes this idea and runs with it to create his own website “The Facebook” and asks his friend Eduardo to fund it and be the CFO of the company. Once the site goes live the Winklevosses are angry convinced he stole their idea and try to put a stop to it and from there the story unfolds to the point where the law suits become necessary.
The first thing I’ll say about the film is between the writing, the acting and the direction I am convinced by these characters. Jesse Eisenberg plays the role of Mark very well, I actually think he’s not a bad guy. He may come across as an unthinking, uncaring arsehole but he’s mostly a clever guy without social smarts, who knows what he wants to do with Facebook but gets swept along in the process of creating the next big thing. He may have been wrong in the things he did but he wasn’t actually a bad guy. Andrew Garfield plays Eduardo well too, he’s just a guy who wants to impress his dad and gets pushed out of the business by the larger more forceful personality of Sean Parker. And Arnie Hammer does a convincing job of making the Winklevoss twins separate characters.
Overall a well written, well acted film with an interesting plot that’s more about character and circumstance and doesn’t tell you how to feel about any of it, with Facebook and everything surrounding it being a backdrop for the story, which will entertain you even if you don’t care about the website at all.