“The Social Network” Movie Review

     “The Social Network” tells the story of Harvard computer student Mark Zuckerberg and how he created the most instantly popular social networking site on the planet.  This, of course, being Facebook.  As the tagline says, you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies and you had to figure this would be the case.  In today’s internet age, its hard to keep a secret and even harder to lay claim to an original idea.  Even James Cameron has dealt with a number of writers who came out of no where claiming they had written the story used in “Avatar” long before he did.  “The Social Network” weaves the long and complicated story in a way which is easy to understand with all of the principals getting their opportunity to state their case, be it in a re-creation of events or in a disposition.  Easily one of the best films of 2010, The Social Network is entertaining and engaging, with a great young cast and a director at the helm who is clearly in his prime.

     Director David Fincher (Seven, The Game, Benjamin Button) knows how to tell a story and while he is certainly used to having A-list talent in front of his camera, he effectively directs a legion of future stars as he again proves to be a master storyteller.  I saw Jesse Eisenberg earlier this year in “Solitary Man” starring opposite Michael Douglas, and he proved to be a capable young actor.  Seeing him now in The Social Network leads me to believe there is no reason he won’t be be one of the front runners for Best Actor in any number of awards ceremonies this year.  He portrays Zuckerberg as a guy who treats having a conversation with you like a chess match.  He is already plotting something witty and inventive to say at least two breaks in conversation ahead of you.  Almost as though each encounter is a debate he refuses to lose.

     The Social Network is loaded with this type of razor sharp dialogue which gives each of the many great characters a lot to say.  This is owed mainly to a Aaron Sorkin’s fabulous script based on the book by Ben Mezrich.  Pencil the screenplay in as the early  Adapted Screenplay frontrunner.  Putting it all together, Fincher uses his trademark dim lighting and modern production design to give the film a very real feel.  It is his vision you are seeing and his ability to work with these young actors and bring this entertaining story to the screen is the central reason for the success and quality of the film.  After about 20 minutes, you get a very good grasp of what it is like to be Zuckerberg attending Harvard as well as the types of students that populate the campus.  This is achieved through a very telling sequence where, after breaking up with his girl friend, Zuckerberg puts a female “hottness” rating site containing all of the girls who go to Harvard up in one night.  The site was called “Face Smash” and undoubtedly gave Zuckerberg an idea of the endless possibilities for social networking on line.  His “Face Smash” got 22,000 hits in just two hours!

     The film really makes a leap forward when Justin Timberlake appears for the first time as Napster founder Sean Parker.  From his opening scenes, you get the idea this is a guy who has a knack for making things happen.  Whereas, Zuckerberg has the technical capability to make Facebook the work of a creative computer genius, Parker has the social know how to get Facebook into the right hands to ultimately make it what it is today.  As the film notes, Facebook got its start as an exclusive to college social site.  Parker’s influence and connections clearly put Facebook into the hands of everyone.  Timberlake’s turn as Parker deserves a look for Best Supporting Actor come Oscar night.

     As the story takes shape and Facebook takes off, we are greeted with numerous other students who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea for the site and that is the main premise of the film.  Each student, including some of Zuckerberg’s original collaborators looking for their piece of the pie, and a large pie it is.  With its worth estimated in the billions,  Zuckerberg is noted as becoming the world’s youngest self made billionaire.  I think I’ll send him a friend request right now. GRADE: A