Pros: Amazing story brought to life; perfomances of Eisnenberg, Garfield and Timberlake.
Cons: Erica is not a real person, but a fiction.
The Social Network (2010) Directed by David Fincher
"I'm the CEO, B*tch!" -Mark Zuckerberg's business card.
Remember the movie Working Girl, where Melanie Griffith had a brilliant idea, so she stole her boss' wardrobe and style, and her boss, Sigourney Weaver tried to steal the idea, and it all came down to being able to prove how you came up with the idea? This is more or less the same thing, with some really big real world differences.
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a student at Harvard. He is a brilliant programmer, but socially inept. Here is a clue, girls don't like having their opinions logically dissected to show why they are wrong and you are right. One girl in particular Erica Albreicht (Rooney Mara) did not like this, and broke up with Mark. In a drunken fit of blogging and hacking, he not only demeaned her in his blog, but he combined all the face books published by the various houses at Harvard, and with an algorithm provided by his only friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) set up a site where you could compare two girls and vote on which one is hotter. It was called facematch, and it crashed the servers at 4:00am. Mark knew he was on to something.
About the same time, three elites of the club system are looking for a programmer to set them up with a new website, a dating site for Harvard; the premise here is that the Harvard.edu address is the most elite in the world and that would make their website elite is practical, and probably true. Since they are members of a club that Mark would desperately like to join, he agrees. But what he takes away is a refinement to his earlier lesson with facematch.com.
Would it be possible to recreate the entire social experience of college on the internet? Mark got in trouble for hacking girls' pictures, but if it was voluntary, and you could only look by invitation, and friends would tell other friends.... A very big idea was brewing. He got Eduardo to front a thousand dollars for the server, and thefacebook was off and running.
The story is told in flashback, to provide context to the ongoing depositions. Mark Zuckerberg was sued by both Eduardo Saverin and by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) and Dustin Moskovitz (Joseph Mazzello).
And basically, that is the story. How a drunken break up lead to a 25 billion dollar idea, and how control of that idea ended up setting all these forces at each other's throats. Of course, it would not be complete without adding the influence of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) the erratic genius behind Napster. It was his frenetic lead that tipped Mark Zuckerberg into the deep end of California investor finance, and took Facebook to the big leagues.
What is so remarkable about this movie is it takes a basically untellable story, and tells it so well. You can't really write a story about someone writing a story, well, not and have it be interesting, and quite frankly, it's even harder to do it about someone writing several tens of thousands of lines of code. But by use of the narrative defined in the deposition room, and filling in the testimony with flashbacks, Fincher not only manages to tell the story, both ending and beginning at the same time, but makes it fascinating. He tells us not about making Facebook, but tracing the evolution of the IDEA of Facebook.
Part of the drive is the social drama. It is intriguing that the man who built the world's largest social website is socially retarded. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark as possibly having a touch of Asperger's syndrome. I think it is a testament to the man's acting ability that I had to remind myself this is not Mark Zuckerberg that I am armchair psychoanalyzing, but an actor playing him. Another moment of that sort of thing was when I had to remind myself why Sean Parker looked so much like a popstar. I was very impressed with Justin's performance as well. And the same can be said for Andrew Garfield, who elicited my sympathy for the man who was made CFO of something that grew into a lot more than he could handle.
I think the key to understanding this drama is understanding revenge, and envy. Facebook owes its existence to a website started out of revenge. I think Mark Zuckerberg is far more driven by envy and revenge than by money. I also think Mark Zuckerberg is driven by being driven. I think that single-minded focus is just part and parcel of who he is. But when he came in contact with Sean Parker, another man similarly motivated by envy and revenge, the combination was explosive. And certainly the Winklevoss twins have had their revenge, to the tune of 65 Million dollars, and Eduardo as well, though I think that is closer to being called justice. But the saddest thing to me is this; Mark Zuckerberg is the world's youngest billionaire. His Facebook page says 779,275 people like him. But in all the world, he had one friend, and lost him. And he will never have another that he does not have to wonder if they like him, or the money.
I went on Facebook and sent friend requests to Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, and both the Winklevoss Twins. Now I have to get back to waiting to see if I have been accepted.