David Fincher’s 2010 masterpiece, The Social Network, is a brilliantly crafted film about deception and loneliness. Aaron Sorkin writes the screenplay, which depicts the founding of the social networking site, Facebook, and the lawsuit that trailed its success. From the very first scene, the audience is launched into a different movie than they may have expected.
As the movie opens, we see Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) on a less than stellar date with girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). Zuckerberg, being unable to talk about something other than Final Clubs, ends up insulting Erica, leading to their breakup which concludes with Erica telling Mark that girls won’t hate him because he’s a nerd, but because he’s an “asshole.” This serves as one of the most important aspects in the entire film. Immediately afterwards, Zuckerberg goes to his Harvard dorm room, where he hacks into other dorms, stealing headshots of the female students. He then creates a website in which other students can rank the women based on their looks. The site becomes so popular it crashes the Harvard server, catching the attention of the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer). The twins meet Mark and propose an idea for a social networking site called “The Harvard Connection,” which Zuckerberg secretly molds into Facebook.
Jesse Eisenberg portrays Zuckerberg as a socially-award, analytical young man who does not care for superficial things such as money or drugs. Zuckerberg wants to be better, he wants to prove that he’s not just an “asshole.” He wants to be the best. When the Winklevoss twins’ approach him with the website concept, Mark secretly creates “Thefacebook,” a revolutionary social networking site that is nearly impossible not to know about.
Zuckerberg’s best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), is the first to know about Thefacebook, and is appointed CFO of the soon-to-be company. Saverin is the moral compass of the film. He cares about Mark and only wants to help his friend. It’s only when entrepreneur Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) steps in the middle of their friendship, that the friendship starts to fizzle. Parker introduces Zuckerberg to the wild-life, which includes parties, sex, drugs, and money. Through a competitive rivalry, Parker redrafts all the finances in the company, reducing Saverin’s share from 43% to 0.03%.
Garfield’s portrayal of Eduardo perfectly encompasses a friend who is trying to do the right thing, all the while being dealt a terrible deck of cards. Garfield’s performance is both funny and downright sad at times, making the audience sympathize for someone who is not our protagonist. Parker is nearly the opposite of that; he is an egotistical mess who tries to undermine his way into power, no matter who he crushes in the process, but thanks to Timberlake’s energetic acting, it’s hard to resist the appeal.
Some of the snappiest dialogue comes from the litigations scenes that the film jumps in and out of. The founding of Facebook and its development is often interrupted by two separate depositions in lawsuits against Zuckerberg by the Winklevoss twins and Saverin. Often the dialogue is very humorous all the while being extremely engaging, much of it attributed to the performances of the cast as much as to Sorkin’s writing.
The films resolution is not explicitly stated, instead letting the audience draw their own conclusion on who was “right” or “wrong.” Fincher was able to take a relatively boring topic and birth it into one of the finest films of the new decade. Although it may be a tad romanticized, The Social Network propels into greatness with a remarkable script, fantastic direction, witty dialogue, and top-notch performances.