October 11, 2010

The Social Network - The Facebook Movie

The Social Network

The opening scene uses sledgehammer nerd-alert tactics: Mark Zuckerberg and his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, are drinking beers at a crowded Boston pub. High-volume background noise with Zuckerberg monotonously speed-talking at his girlfriend, in a Rainman sort of way. "Dating you is like dating a stairmaster" says Erica Albright, the soon-to-be ex.

She goes on to utter the first of two cheesy quotes; he won’t have girlfriends, not because he's a geek, but because he's an asshole. Bookended by the corny opposing definition of Zuckerberg's assholeness, these two minor flaws use up three minutes screen time, the remaining 117 minutes you are “wired in”. From the get-go, the movie is on a high-frequency buzz and the viewer along with it. It’s Fincher. It’s Sorkin. The cast is phenomenal. The dialogue is great.

“I wanna hire the Sopranos to beat the shit outta him.” uttered by the Winklevosses' confidente, Divya Narendra.

The characters, all brilliantly portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Justin Timberlake, respectively:

  • Mark Zuckerberg: The anti-hero, who's single-mindedness and uncanny prescience make him both popular and isolated. His own inability to function among humans the driving force behind the creation of the perfect platform for virtual socializing.
  • Eduardo Saverin: A generous guy who ultimately was too timid to hold on to the runaway train. Part of the original start-up team of Facebook.
  • Armie Hammer as both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss: the privileged twins of old money and Gentlemen’s Club traditions. They couldn’t grasp the fact their way of doing things in the wired world was as out-dated as trying to write code with a typewriter.
  • Sean Parker: the pathological charmer, who knew the groove and how to stay in it. Timberlake gave him an oddly effeminate twist. I liked it.
The hype surrounding David Fincher's and Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network" has been huge. And deservedly so.


Think about it: in a matter of single-digit figures - four years - Facebook has completely changed how the world interacts socially. The brand recognition of Facebook goes way beyond the current 500 million active users. It is The Social Network. Facebook has been around since 2004, for the first two years available only to elite universities: the exclusivity factor. In September 2006, its doors were opened to anyone above the age of 13 with a valid email address. Welcome to the final club. It’s all about belonging.

A Parable: a brief, succint story that illustrates a moral lesson

The Social Network functions as a parable for what success does to friendship and the thing, the entity that causes the rift - Facebook itself - as a Frankenstein’s Monster. Let’s be honest: Facebook changed the creators' lives profoundly. Let loose on the rest of world, it has changed society in a profound way.

Zuckerberg, sitting in the empty office, clicking on "send friend request", demonstrates how all of us are at the mercy of the recipient. Will we be "accepted"? All very fragile and transient. With the click of a button you can add and delete friends in and out of your life. Virtually, it works.

The Dilemna of Intellectual Property

The film deals with Zuckerberg's alleged theft of intellectual property. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss file a lawsuit, claiming he stole their idea (they had approached Zuckerberg after his Harvard hacking coup, to help them set up a Harvard exclusive type dating site.

Who gets what out there first is what it’s all about. Ideas are building blocks. We toss them around all the time. Ideas were tossed around in abundance at Harvard. Zuckerberg took one idea, applied his own and ran with it. He was "wired in". He knew what would take off. The law suits filed against Zuckerberg, by the Winklevosses and Eduardo Saverin respectively, weren't about the money, but a completely futile attempt to save face. Both Eduardo and the Winkelvosses wanted to be a part of that mind-boggling success. Any which way.

Zuckerberg was quicker to grab the idea and go beyond. And he worked his ass off. The fact that he was exceptionally gifted in the dot com universe, quickly becoming an integral part of people's lives, made him the youngest billionaire in the world. Lucky? Maybe. But at a price. Sometimes, you see a movie and you leave the cinema thinking, "wow, how cool. I wanna be a rich bastard banker" or whatever. I have to say, I did not leave the movies thinking, "Gee, I wanna be Mark Zuckerberg".

Each viewer will automatically factor in their own personal experience with the creature known as Facebook. The Social Network tells the tale behind the creation and simultaneously, our own.

Extremely smart movie.

Recommended reviews on :
David Denby’s review in The New Yorker from October 4th, 2010
J. Hoberman’s review in LA Weekly from September 30th, 2010
Ian Forbes' review on Rantrave
Mark Kermode on BBC4

Film Poster designed by Kellerman, Inc.
Official Site for
The Social Network

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