Ironically, Facebook is all about the girl. In the opening of Director David Fincher’s “The Social Network”, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) gets dumped by his girlfriend BU student Erica Albright (strong and spirited Rooney Mara), and rightfully so. Erica tells Mark that he may rationalize that he is getting dumped, because he is a geek. No—”It’ll be because you’re an a—hole.” Outraged, Mark bashes Erica on his blog, and exacts his anger in the form of Facemash—where Harvard students get to rate the hotness of coeds. So the inception of Facebook was about Mark using his powers for evil, not good. Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) brilliantly tells the story of the rise of Facebook and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg based on Ben Mezrich’s “The Accidental Billionaires”. Granted his screenplay is part urban legend, and part real life drama about the social network Facebook which has 500 million members. Zuckerberg has altered the world.
In the eyes and ears of Fincher and Sorkin is the great paradox: The creator of The Social Network is an alienated genius, predominately by his own doing. Jesse Eisenberg deftly borders sympathetic misunderstood genius and world class a—hole. It may be safe to surmise that the real Zuckerberg lies somewhere between the extremes—or perhaps not. “The Social Network” is one the best movies of the year. Whether “The Social Network” defines a generation? Only time will tell. “The Social Network” plays like Internet tragedy. An ingenious idea captures the social consciousness, and culminates in a multimillion dollar lawsuit, pitting former friends against each other. At the catharsis, Mark’s attorney Marylin Delphy (compassionate and smart Rashida Jones) tells him, “You’re not an a—hole. You just try so hard to be one.” Thomas Hardy said character is fate. Mark attained unimaginable wealth and success. No doubt he has an amazing life. In the final scene Fincher poignantly makes us wonder: Is Mark really happy and complete? Because Fincher and Sorkin make us care about this boy genius, who would be king.
“The Social Network” is a warped rites of passage tale filled with deception and fascinating archetypes. Mark (Eisenberg) goes into business with his loyal roommate Eduardo Saverin (brilliant and earnest Andrew Garfield), who actually finances Mark’s brain child. Mark’s Facemash attracts the attention of the Winklevoss Twins, Cameron and Tyler (both played by Armie Hammer), who are blond, blue eyed, blue blood scholar athletes. Cameron and Tyler enlist Mark to develop their idea for a Harvard based on-line social network. Enter the seductive Sean Parker (amazing Justin Timberlake), co-founder of Napster and the dark force that discerns Facebook as the next big thing. Unlike Mark’s other colleagues, Sean gets that what makes Facebook work is that it is cool. Timberlake is charismatic and dangerous—he is becoming a powerful actor. Sean wins over Mark with flash, money, and women. He tells Mark, “This is our time!” Friendships end and unholy alliances form, and in the end—betrayal.
So the world may have been a lot different if Mark actually apologized to Erica. Then again, character is fate. “The Social Network” is awesome and on some level very sad. Sometimes the very genius that triumphs may ultimately be a curse. “The Social Network” asks the poignant question: Was it worth it? On the surface this is a no brainer, and we all have to live with our choices and the aftermath.
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