You’d be hard pushed to find someone in the western world who hasn’t heard of Facebook, let alone someone who hasn’t signed up, so perhaps it’s a little surprising it’s taken seven years for a cinematic adaptation to rear its head.
Itself adapted from Ben Mezrich’s take on the website’s inception, The Social Network chronicles the start-up of Facebook while Zuckerberg was in college, and the resulting court cases as best friend Eduardo Saverin and ConnectU founders Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra sue Zuckerberg for IP theft and diminishing of company control.
The story picks up with Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) at dinner with his girlfriend Erica Albright (Mara), but tired of his backhandedness, it’s the last dinner they are to share. Bitter about being dumped, Zuckerberg jogs back to his dorm room, loads up on beers and sets to blogging about the evening’s events, only tired of girls, he seeks to get his own back on the opposite sex on a grander scale.
Setting up a ‘Hot Or Not’ website for the female students of his university, Harvard, he hacks into each halls of residence website, downloads the profile pictures for their students, and pitches them side by side, for users to click who they think is more attractive. Sure enough, the site becomes a massive hit overnight, and causes more than a stir with the university board and every female student on campus, but in that moment, what became a billionaire idea was born.
Impressed with what he did with Facemash, three older students approach Zuckerberg with their plan for a Harvard based online social network. Zuckerberg agrees to help code it, only when he sees what he could do with a similar plan of his own, he shifts his main priorities to that, and with friend Eduardo Saverin helping out with initial funding, Facebook is born.
What starts out as an innocent and fun idea, however, quickly turns messy, and when Napster founder Sean Parker gets involved and the rival Harvard network fails to take off, let alone spread across the country, soon court cases, betrayal and a million dollar bank balance become the main story, as Zuckerberg takes almost all of the acclaim, leaving others by the wayside.
Swapping perfectly back and forth between the two court cases against Zuckerberg and the on-going origin story, The Social Network effortlessly absorbing and moves along at the perfect pace. You can feel from the outset that the film is a David Fincher movie, and it won’t take much to have you along for the ride.
Shot selection and the film’s style suit the story perfectly, and bar one misstep at a rowing event, Fincher again proves himself to be one of the true artistic and leading filmmakers in the world, and one of very few who know how to tell a story with such craft, time and time again.
Though Mark Zuckerberg is undoubtedly the focal character, The Social Network is definitely a film where the ensemble cast hold higher importance. Eisenberg embodies the awkward arrogance and brilliance of Zuckerberg, Andrew Garfield is perfectly understated yet sizzling under the core as Mark turns his back on his best friend, and Armie Hammer, as the two Winklevoss brothers, does a sterling job as preppy college men scorned. The characters feel natural yet each is interesting in their own way, drawing you effortlessly into their differing plights.
Despite all of the betrayal, court cases and double crossing, let’s be honest, no-one really cares about the founding of Facebook, let alone wanting to spend two hours of their life, seeing it unfold in front of their eyes. In the hands of David Fincher, however, The Social Network is something of a masterpiece. The script is mature and the dialogue clever and witty, meaning th e end result is a compelling and rich tale, masterfully put together and a film that perfectly chronicles one of the most influential intellectual properties in modern society today.