Movie Review: The Social Network

September 15, 2010

Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg (Photo by Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures)

I was lucky enough to catch a sneak preview of the much-hyped movie The Social Network, which chronicles the rise of Facebook and its founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin.

After Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave it four stars and called it “the movie of the year that also brilliantly defines the decade,” I was extremely curious. To my delight, the film (yes, film — it was that good) lived up to its promise. The performances were brilliant, the writing was razor sharp and director David Fincher managed to weave together a satisfying narrative in under two hours.

The film relies on two lawsuits involving Zuckerberg to unfold the story about Facebook’s creation. Deposition testimony leads into flashbacks to Harvard dorm rooms, late night programming sessions and Zuckerberg’s early meetings with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.

Based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, the movie offers an interesting blend of fact and fiction. The film does such a convincing job of establishing Zuckerberg as the antihero (read: jerk) that it’s hard to keep an open mind. Maybe believing that the youngest billionaire in the world, who is my age, has trouble carrying on a normal conversation makes me sleep better at night. Guilty.

But enough about me, let’s talk about Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg. Eisenberg captures the genius, insecurity and arrogance of Zuckerberg with a great performance. In the opening scene, Eisenberg fires off well-written lines with the rhythm of an auctioneer, while acting like someone with an undiagnosed case of Asperger’s. You’re not even sure if he’s talking to himself or his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, played by Rooney Mara. Add strong performances by the multi-faceted Justin Timberlake as the antagonist Sean Parker and Andrew Garfield as the scorned Eduardo Saverin and I can see where reviewer Peter Travers is coming from.

It’s the off-screen conversations surrounding the movie about the transition of the social experience online that are a little lost to me. I marvel with the rest of the world at how communication has changed, but I signed up for Facebook the first week I started college and I really don’t know anything else. It was new, it was basic, and I actually had to scan in a photo for my profile because I didn’t have a digital camera yet. It’s memories like this and knowing how useful Facebook has been to me that really make The Social Network relevant.

But don’t take my word for it. Go see the The Social Network, which opens Oct. 1.

Thank you to SMBMSP for the advance screening tickets!