Facebook movie is something to ‘like’



by Colin Walsh

I have to start with a message to my readers: don’t let predispositions deter you from seeing this film.

Whether you love or hate the social and technological revolution that is Facebook, you can’t deny the immense impact it has had on the way we communicate. “The Social Network” reminds us of that, yes. But there is much more about engrossing, intelligent film that makes it a succeed. The story of Mark Zuckerberg via Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book, “The Accidental Billionaires,” will wow you.

The shy Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) during his pre-millionaire days is a Harvard freshman. He’s a geeky genius, but he wants to be a member of a prestigious and exclusive Harvard fraternity. He knows he’s not getting an invite, and it makes him bitter. So bitter it drives his girlfriend to dump him.

After he gets the boot, Zuckerberg makes the first move in the Facebook saga. Hacking into the university’s “facebooks”, websites with photographs of each dorm’s residents, he steals the pics and puts them on a website he makes called “Facemash.” It gets about 22,000 hits in an hour and subsequently crashes Harvard’s network.

Right about here, director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) starts splitting screen time between legal proceedings years in the future, a still- bitter Zuckerberg and several integral characters. This now-and-later type storytelling creates the sense of drama before it even ensues. This task is difficult to pull off without interrupting the narrative. but it’s done well here.

The network-crashing stunt gets Zuckerberg in trouble with his school, but it also gains him notoriety as a programmer. Two campus hotshot jocks, the Winklevoss twins, approach him. These two rich boys are everything our protagonist wants to be. They pitch him an idea for a website, a kind of exclusive Harvard MySpace. they ask him to program it for them, he agrees.

Did I say protagonist? It’s hard to decide at first whether or not to trust Zuckerberg as our champion, although it is easy to sympathize with Eisenberg’s witty underdog character. The short meeting between the Winklevoss twins and Zuckerberg is the last time they speak in person without lawyers present, because Zuckerberg sorta kinda steals their idea and makes “The Facebook.” The website is a hit and Zuckerberg expands, hiring his best and only friend as CFO; a friend who is also suing Zuckerberg.

At its core, the story is about a Harvard outcast genius with a jealous grudge and plenty of, ironically, social ineptitude. But there’s also the dirty and complicated genesis of a $25 billion communication giant, and, of course, the other players who are trying to get a piece of the pie.

In addition to the Winklevosses, one of the pie chasers is Napster founder Sean Parker, played by an energetic Justin Timberlake. Parker comes off like an older more confident Zuckerberg, and the two click naturally – causing the tension that drags best friend and CFO, Bryan, out of the picture.

It’s important to note that the neither the Winklevoss twins nor anyone else who complicates Zuckerberg’s life are unlikeable characters. Really, none of the characters in the movie are unlikeable; they are human. This is a fact-based movie. It has an underlying artistic design, but Fincher has made sure not to lead us into getting attached to any of the characters.

“The Social Network” is a complicated and involved film, and it might take a while for it all to sink in. The two hour film has non-stop dialogue, some of which is quite technical or legal, but it’s truly a thrill to watch it all unfold. If it’s not the subject matter that draws us in, then it’s the unforgettable characters, the well directed drama or, at the very least, the mesmerizing true story. This one’s a winner–4 stars.