The Social Network swept the Golden Globes by storm despite having some stiff competition from Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Darren Aranofsky’s Black Swan. Immediately I reacted with outrage — having just seen Black Swan and thinking it fantastic, I thought there was no way in Hell a bio-drama about the founder of Facebook could claim such a victory. My opinion was completely uninformed because at the time I had not seen The Social Network, but I’m a dick and that doesn’t stop me from being highly opinionated even when I have little to support my argument. I’m allowed to be from time to time.
David Fincher is a brilliant Director who has brought us the men’s bible in the form of Fight Club, an excellent detective thriller in Se7en and is responsible for the very underrated movie The Game. Even when he stumbles (Alien 3), he’s not without his charm. It’s not like I expected The Social Network to suck. I just refused to believe it could hold a candle to more films with more entertaining ideas. In either case, there was only one way to settle it, so as soon as I could I got my hands on a copy of the film.
The film starts with a conversation between Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) and his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). The opening of the movie started things off on a bad foot for me. Zuckerberg is rambling on-and-on about utter bullshit and I suppose it’s a good introduction to his elitist vantage-point and sets the stage for who Zuckerberg is — a dickhead. The problem is while it’s also my introduction to the character, it’s my introduction to the film and it’s easy to confuse wanting to punch the character in the face with my desire to punch … well … everyone behind the production in the face. The conversation isn’t just annoying to me. It annoys his girlfriend into ending things with him, which is the spark that sends Zuckerberg on a drunken rampage …
… of coding a website where people get to rate females on campus as compared to other females. While he does this he’s blogging about Erica and making her look like a fool in front of her friends and classmates, because, well, he’s a huge tool. The website he creates is a huge hit on campus and the website traffic ends with the server going down. The school’s not happy, but eh, what are you going to do when your student’s going to be the youngest billionaire ever?
We’re introduced to the Winklevoss twins (Arnie Hammer, who plays both by having his face digitally superimposed onto a second actor’s body) who are impressed with Zuckerberg’s ability and pitch to him an idea that would be the base for “The Facebook”. The catch is there version would be exclusive to the Harvard campus. Well, Zuckerberg takes the idea and runs with it, but doesn’t clue in the Winklevoss twins because he has a much better idea and plans for expansion. He teams up with his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who provides the equation which becomes the foundation for the code of Facebook as well as the start-up cash.
While this is all happening the film is cutting between the story and the depositions of two cases. Unsurprisingly, one of them is the Winklevoss twins who are suing him for theft of intellectual property and the other is … Eduardo Saverin. The story involving Eduardo is the real meat of the movie because, while the Winklevoss law suit could be seen a mile away, the one filed by his own best friend is only explained at the events unfold.
The Facebook becomes a huge hit and quickly Zuckerberg looks to spread its outreach. Saverin once more provides the cash to keep things going and has hopes to see a return on his investment by pimping it out to advertisement companies. This is an idea that Zuckerberg highly resents as it would ‘remove what makes The Facebook cool’, but as the one putting in the money, Eduardo obviously wants to see a return.
At some point Zuckerberg and co meet up with Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), who is portrayed as an overly paranoid, party-loving … psycho with charm. As much of a hater as I am on Timberlake, the boy proved he had some acting chops in this role and I can’t take that away from him. Parker becomes the wedge between Zuckerberg and Saverin as he too agrees with Zuck’ on what makes The Facebook cool, and also gives him the idea to drop the word “The” from the title.
As events unfold, Eduardo finds himself being cut out of the loop more and more all the while Parker’s presence becomes more evident within the company. Unceremoniously, one day Saverin finds that his share of the company had been reduced to less than 1% and due to signing some contracts, this was perfectly allowable — but his trust in his friend led him to make the mistake that ended in his undoing.
The heart of the movie is the betrayal between the two friends. Eisenberg plays the Facebook CEO without pulling a punch, proving he is not just the poor man’s Michael Cera (a very sad title for anyone to have to claim). The character is a total dickhead, completely introverted and robotic in his decision-making while still remaining a very human character. I don’t know anything about the real Zuckerberg, but if he’s anything like his movie counter-part, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he had Asperger syndrome. You want to punch him in the face on an almost frame-by-frame basis, but it works somehow.
The story is a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be and that’s probably due to a lot of Hollywood fabrication and magic. The beginning started me off on a bad foot, but as time went on I started seeing what everybody else saw in this film. It’s just very well made. Now, the verdict … should it have beaten Black Swan or Inception?
I can at least with honesty say I can see how it’s a matter of personal opinion. The movie is very good, but I wouldn’t put it above Black Swan and Inception is a tie at best. Fincher’s a talented director, the actor’s pulled their weight, and the soundtrack was great … but you’re pitting a story about the founding of Facebook against movies that … well … are NOT about the founding of Facebook. Really, no matter how you stretch that story it is what it is. I stand by my objections, but not with some humble respect towards The Social Network.
Still … come the fuck on. Black Swan, hands down.