The Social Network

We like this – David Fincher makes Facebook story hugely entertaining

THE SOCIAL NETWORK directed by David Fincher, written by Aaron Sorkin from the book by Ben Mezrich, with Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer and Max Minghella. A Sony Pictures release. 122 minutes. Opens Friday (October 1). For venues. trailers and times, see Movies.

The Social Network turns the nuts and bolts of the creation of Facebook – and the elevation of Mark Zuckerberg to the status of nerd godhead – into a thrilling, rippling comedy of manners about male vanity, social mores and the utter impossibility of transparency in the modern age.

It’s also about an idea that takes over the world: the idea that everyone wants everyone else to know exactly how he or she feels about everything at any given moment.

David Fincher’s cultural history opens in the momentous fall of 2003, when college kid Zuckerberg – played by Jesse Eisenberg, whose complex and prickly performance should finally get people to stop thinking of him as “that guy who isn’t Michael Cera” – took it upon himself to create his world-changing website. It didn’t take much, just a few hundred hours of coding and about $1,000 of seed money from his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Where the concept of the site came from, well, that’s another thing.

As the movie tells it – and as court documents would eventually reflect – Zuckerberg was approached by a trio of Harvard richies, Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer in a breakout dual performance), to build a social networking site for Harvard students. That never quite happened instead, Zuckerberg built on his own, and shut them out of it.

Why would he do that? Did he think no one would notice? Did he enjoy sticking it to sons of privilege? Was he simply unaware that this sort of infraction would bother anyone? Or did he just see a possibility and go for it, heedless of the possible repercussions?

Aaron Sorkin’s script and Fincher’s nimble direction allow for the possibility that all of the above could be true. The Social Network is an endlessly intriguing examination of Zuckerberg as a psychological mine field – socially inept, blindly arrogant and able to alienate a roomful of people who’ve just hailed him as a genius with a single sentence. His genius allows him to act like a raging asshole it also blinds him to the reality that he simply doesn’t understand human beings. It’s a character study of a man with no discernible character, and that makes it a kind of tragedy.

Is it the best American movie of the year, as you may have been hearing? Maybe not. But it’s tremendous entertainment, a clever creation myth produced with immense skill and peppered with great one-liners. I have just one request: if you see it with a bunch of friends, make the arrangements over Twitter instead. It just feels like the right thing to do.

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