Movie review: “The Social Network”
“The Social Network” is engrossing, smart and dramatic. If you’re questioning whether a movie about a Web site could be worth your $11 ticket, this one delivers.
The film follows an unsettlingly brilliant and driven geek, Mark Zuckerberg, on his journey to develop one of the most popular Web sites on the Internet, Facebook. His motivation is to gain admission to a “final club,” one of Harvard’s secret fraternities. Along the way, Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend, creates some serious enemies, cheats his best friend and falls under the spell of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster.
The back-story is woven seamlessly into the film utilizing two of Zuckerberg’s ongoing court cases. Although a little confusing at first, the film is structured to help viewers understand the consequences of each character’s actions. Switching from a tense moment in the film between Zuckerberg and his ex-friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) to a shot of them sitting across from each other flanked by lawyers helps viewers to understand the eventual effects of their blowout. Founding Facebook helped to bring Zuckerberg and Saverin closer together, but as the film progresses, it also tears them apart.
While the screenplay is clever and genuine, it is brought to life by a skilled cast. In particular, Garfield’s performance as Saverin is convincing. He seems like such a true friend and honest guy that, as a member of the audience, you later feel torn and unsure where your loyalties should lie.
Timberlake does a fair job of portraying Sean Parker, but at times his performance is campy. At one point, Parker offers Zuckerberg into his own “final club” of sorts, a sexy world of deception and wealth. But the intimate conversation takes place at a loud dance club and just as Timberlake reaches the climax of his proposal, the lights in the club change color, making Parker appear devil-like.
The real star of the show is Eisenberg. He perfectly embodies Zuckerberg, a difficult feat, as he is a character of contradictions. He is socially awkward and unconfident but unshakeable when it comes to his computer prowess. He desperately seeks acceptance but severely mistreats his only friend Eduardo, and creates a social media empire only to realize he is even more alone than before. Eisenberg creates the perfect balance between ruthless geek and insecure young adult, making Zuckerberg’s pretentious qualities almost endearing.
“The Social Network” is an intriguing and scandalous story. It is almost so engaging that it makes you question the recounting of the story compared to the actual events. But on a deeper level, “The Social Network” is about the intricacies of human nature, jealousy, greed, betrayal and retribution, and its effect on relationships.
Danielle Kaslow may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Social Network”
Rating: 4/4 stars
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake
Directed by: David Fincher
Screenwriters: Aaron Sorkin and Ben Mezrich
Original music score by: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Released: Oct. 1
Running time: 121 min.
MPAA rating: PG-13