Review: The Social Network by Jamie

Some small spoilers but I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler free, nothing that isn’t really obvious from watching the first third of the film or so.

Facebook has irrevocably changed the way human beings interact, either for the worse or the better. It’s hard to tell which. It ensures that we can stay in touch with old friends who it’d just be difficult to keep in touch with otherwise but then there’s always the odd report of a paedophile setting up a group so they can get pictures of kids. Whether true or not (and I tend to lean towards not because it’s my experience that the internet creates the ultimate herd mind, a mass organism that has all of it’s fight or flight instincts multiplied by billions compared to that which you’d experience in a single human being. If you don’t understand then just ask Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black), these reports certainly help to bring into question just how good of a thing Facebook is. But rarely is the question asked How is Facebook? The reason that that question is rarely asked is because it’s poorly worded. A better question would be where did Facebook come from? And that just so happens to be the subject of this film ‘The Social Network’.

Now I remember when their was first talk of this film being made and everyone, including myself, were basically saying “A film about Facebook? That’s fucking retarded! Who the hell’s gonna see that?” It didn’t matter that David Fincher was directing or that Aaron Sorkin was writing. It just seemed like a film about a website was a really stupid idea. And on reflection it would be a really stupid idea if that website wasn’t Facebook. The reason that Facebook is the exception is, as I stated, it is a world changing thing but more importantly it’s the way in which the website came to be that is fascinating.

Still, even knowing that the movie was about the complicated relationships behind Facebook, I wasn’t completely sold. The trailer pissed me off a little. What with the whole choir version of Radio head’s “Creep” it just seemed so pretentious and so self-important for a film about the founding of a website. Still, I had thought the same thing about the trailer for ‘Frost/Nixon’ and that ended up being a film that I really loved. The proof I decided would be in the pudding and, as it turned out, what a fucking awesome pudding.

From the opening film where Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) was having a war of words with his girlfriend to the films final resolution, I was fucking hooked. The story is twisty and turny, filled with betrayal and intrigue. It’s hard for me to even begin this review.

Ok, so the basic plot is Mark Zuckerberg breaks up with his girlfriend, hacks Harvard’s computer network and creates Facesmash, a website that allows people to compare girls at the university whilst blogging nasty things about his ex. The website goes viral and within a few hours, Zuckerberg has managed to crash the entire Harvard network. He is reprimanded by the school but his actions gain the attention of the Winklevoss twins (Arnie Hammer) and Divaya Narendra (Max Minghella) who approach him with an idea for a new social network, completely exclusive to Harvard, allowing friends to share photos and keep in touch and that kind of thing. Zuckerberg agrees to help them.

As he’s working on the site, however, he comes up with his own idea. It’s similar to their idea but greatly improved allowing for greater user participation and a wider range of features. He calls it ‘The Facebook’ and launches it with the financial aid of his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who becomes the manager of the business side of The Facebook. Eventually the website expands beyond the grounds of Harvard which attracts the attention of another internet pioneer, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) the creator of Napster who finds himself having fallen on hard times due to being sued by pretty much everyone in the music industry. It’s here when things really start to expand and soon everyone is rich.

Of course the Winklevoss twins and Narenda haven’t exactly been too pleased with all this as they feel that Zuckerberg basically just stole their idea. Finding no help from Harvard’s higher ups, they send a cease and desist letter and pretty much leave it at that as one of the twins is really reluctant to sue. That is until they find out Facebook has spread all the way to England. Then it’s litigation time.

Meanwhile Zuckberberg basically screws over Saverin who also decides to sue him and Zuckerberg suddenly finds himself fighing two cases.

It’s these trials that are basically the framework of the film with all the other stuff provided as flashbacks. It’s handled really well all though the first time the film left one trial only for the flashback to end in another I was a little confused though it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. It’s a really interesting way for this film to play out especially if, like me, you haven’t read the book it was based on ‘The Accidental Billionaires’. You know that Zuckerberg is gonna screw over the twins and Narendra, at least from their point of view, and it’s fairly obvious how but you can’t figure out just how he’s going to screw over Eduardo who, to be honest, seems like the only real friend that Zuckerberg has due to his… somewhat abrasive personality.

So yes, it’s time to talk about Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Well, for years the standard joke has been that Eisenberg is basically the guy you get in your film if you can’t get Michael Cera but in ‘The Social Network’ he really shines. I honestly couldn’t see Michael Cera pulling this off. The way he portrays Zuckerberg as this arrogant, selfish, self-centered… Hell, basically sociopathic individual that for some reason you still feel something for is amazing.

Hell everyone’s amazing in this film. Andrew Garfield stands out as poor Eduardo who sticks with Zuckerberg through everything despite his personality and is ultimately discarded. In fact the scene when he is finally just screwed over by his best friends is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve seen since maybe Toy Story 3. I didn’t cry this time but I think I was actually close.

Even Justin Timberlake surprised me as Parker, again someone who, like Zuckerberg, should be truly, truly unlikeable but there’s something about him that just you just can’t fully hate him. Oh, you can hate him more than Zuckerberg but still there’s something just kinda likeable beneath all of his doucehbaggery.

Fuck, everything in this film was great. The plot and the way it unfolded, the score by Trent Reznor, the way Eisenberg handled the quick, snappy dialogue, the fact that one guy is playing both twins and you would swear that, no, they must’ve just cast twin…. Everything. Go see this movei. Drop whatever it is you’re doing right now and go see it.

On top of everything else there is a personal investment in this story. We all use Facebook. That’s just the way life is now and to see it’s origins and to see how it spread and became this major force in our lives, well, it’s just incredible. See it. Five pints out of five. Laterz.

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