Starring: Jesse Einsberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Directed by: David Fincher (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”)
Written by: Aaron Sorkin (“Charlie Wilson’s War”)
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Einsberg) is the smartest guy in the room. If you weren’t aware, don’t worry. He would’ve let you known sooner or later.
So is the personality of the genius Facebook founder as it is portrayed in director David Fincher’s internet epic “The Social Network,” an incisively-written and impressively-controlled biopic where fascinating legal drama meets new media ambition. Adapted by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“Charlie Wilson’s War”) from the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, “The Social Network” is an occasionally one-sided yet nearly-perfect narrative centered on the most prevalent online phenomenon of the past decade.
With a story this substantial, there was bound to be a villain – or at least an anti-hero – somewhere in the mix. “The Social Network” doesn’t waste time in introducing audiences to Mark. Einsberg plays him as arrogant and aloof as any character in recent memory. It doesn’t necessarily push the actor’s range compared to some of his past films, but from this bigger-than-life persona Einsberg exudes a scary confidence and insensitivity that draws us as close to him as it pushes others away.
From the opening scene, Mark has our attention as he sits across from his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) in a Harvard pub and manages to say just about every wrong thing imaginable. The difference between Mark and a guy that simply puts his foot in his mouth (as all guys do) is that Mark is well aware of his offensive nature but wants to see where the breaking point lies.
“This is exhausting,” Erica tells Mark as he rambles on about how getting into a Finals Club (a sort of glorified fraternity at Harvard) will lead to a better life. “Dating you is like dating Stairmaster.”
Mark’s ability to destroy friendships is what layers his character so well. His defense mechanisms are what keep him from truly finding a connection with friends. In “The Social Network,” Mark is able to demonstrate how he uses his intelligence to prove his worth. He starts by ransacking the campus blogosphere before proceeding to steal what would later become Facebook, a multi-billion-dollar media corporation.
Standing beside Mark to help build his empire is best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), who provided the start-up cash to fund Facebook in its early stages and attempted to monetize the website. In the film, Eduardo, who is the main source for “The Accidental Billionaires,” is suing Mark for $600 million. Garfield’s depiction of a loyal friend is heartfelt until it becomes heartbreaking. As Napster founder Sean Parker, singer/actor Justin Timberlake plays to his strengths and embodies Parker as a smart and wily entrepreneur looking for the next big money-making idea.
“The Social Network” isn’t so much a movie about Facebook as it’s a story of greed, envy, and the ruthless means one young man would take to rise to power no matter who he crushes along the way. It’s “There Will Be Blood” for the tech generation.
Through wonderfully-constructed scenes, director Fincher and screenwriter Sorkin have created an exhilarating drama that achieves the finest that filmmaking has to offer today. “The Social Network” is a relentless character study and just might be the best film of the year.