By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic
If you have lived under a rock for the last seven years, and this is your first time in networked society, you may not be entirely aware of what Facebook is, where it came from, or how it developed. That is OK; we forgive you.
To bring you up to speed on what you have missed, we present to you the Social Network. The film follows Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg through the major development points as Facebook transformed from a campus sensation at Harvard University to one of the most popular sites on the internet.
An immediate concern is whether the film is just an exercise in ego stroking for a group of youth, who have achieved celebrity by virtue of making the site. Fears are quickly assuaged when the name Kevin Spacey rolls across the screen in the producer credits however; we may have questions about how interesting the Facebook story is, but we trust that Kevin Spacey will not produce a bad movie.
The story its self is a dramatized version of what actually happened as pertains to the legal actions against Zuckerberg by his former associates based upon the Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, and adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin. However true it may be to the actual history though, would be better classified as a documentary than drama. The path to owning the most popular site on the internet is conflictless, a few years of smooth sailing for Zuckerberg with no conflict, adversity, or obstacles to overcome. The worst to happen to him was that he got sued, settled, and went on with his life. Sorkin is able to create an interesting character for Zuckerberg, but every one else around him in one dimensional, boring, and exists simply to hamper the development on the site at different times.
Eisenberg does an excellent job of bringing the subtext to Zuckerberg, and humanizing the character. While the facts are indisputable that Zuckerberg stole ideas from people, who trusted him and tried to cheat his closest friend, all in the name of creating the coolest party on the internet, Sorkin, and Eisenberg work together to paint Zuckerberg was more of a tortured genius than a villain, and his antagonist is the work its self as it gradually costs him the relationships, which he values.
The supporting cast is a bunch of one dimensional characters with an on / off switch: either they are after money, or they are not after money. Justin Timberlake plays Sean Parker well as a paranoid, and irresponsible, but the character never goes any where. He is the same Sean Parker when he is broke as he is with a multimillion dollar share of Facebook. Even the Winklevoss, and Saverin plaintiffs for the most part only vacillate between “I’ll sue him. I’ll sue him not.”
The Social Network is a film, which further monetizes the popularity of Facebook. If you love the site, you will probably love the movie by topic association. If you look at the film on its merits though, you will notice that it is just a series of events for one man, and not even challenging events: this happened, then this happened, then he got rich. When you think of it that way, you can justifiably pass on it, although peer pressure from the largest party on the internet may make you see it any way.