If anything will define the last decade, the explosion of social networking media would be very close to the top of the list. The biggest hitter of them all of course - Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg’s behemoth: Facebook
Set primarily inside two court deposition rooms, “The Social Network” tells in flashback the sequence of events surrounding the inception and foundation of Facebook, as told through the eyes of Zuckerberg himself (in a performance unlike any other which Jesse Eisenberg has ever delivered); Eduardo Saverin (his business partner portrayed by Andrew Garfield); and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (two other Harvard students, who sued Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing the idea for Facebook)
Aaron Sorkin’s script is superb, not coming down on any side of the legal wrangling, but instead – having chosen to set the film during the disputes – using the 3 different versions of events to present different scenes to the viewer, and allow them to try and piece together an opinion of their own regarding who’s right and who’s wrong.
There are some great laughs too, clearly poking fun at the mania of the modern system, which has become so dependent on Facebook. When Saverin’s girlfriend berates him about his relationship status remaining as “Single” rather than “in a relationship”, it feels like every single member of the audience knows that this is far more than the triviality which it should be – in this day and age this is a serious issue.
At the centre of it all of course is the Zuckerberg character itself. An insanely bright, witty and yet incredible dark individual, Mark Zuckerberg is a certifiable genius, but at the same time a certifiable jackass to boot. He is not a likeable man, and indeed his (very quickly to become ex) girlfriend at the start of the movie sums him up saying: “You’ll grow old thinking that everyone hates you because you’re a nerd. It’s not that at all Mark, it’s just that you’re an arrogant asshole.” (or words to that effect). How ironic that someone who has such complete trouble with social interaction should ultimately be the one to create the greatest social tool mankind has ever seen.
This is very different to the role you’d traditionally expect to find Jesse Eisenberg in. In the past he’s been described as taking the roles which Michael Cera would pass off, but here he more than out shines that particular shadow, bringing nuance to the genius on screen.
Justin Timberlake also stars, in the role of Sean Parker, founder of Napster, and in many ways the man Mark Zuckerberg wishes he could be. Parker is savvy, cool, and you get the feeling he can (and does) get any girl he wants, whenever he wants her. He almost presents the cautionary tale though, in that you feel like he’s a loose cannon ready to go off at any moment – something which clearly worries the Andrew Garfield character, who is very much the ethical barometer of the film, far more able to read into people than Mark is.
Ulitmately of course there is only one way I can really sum up my opinions on what may as well have been titled “Facebook: The Movie” – James Gordon Likes This.