Twitter Plot Summary: The creation of Facebook, and all the legal disputes associated with it.
Five Point Summary:
1. Crikey, a time before Facebook!
2. The Winklevi aren’t happy.
3. Napster chap gets involved.
4. Screwed over. Nice office though.
5. Friend request sent. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
Pretty much everyone in this day and age who isn’t a member of some isolated Amazonian tribe is aware of what Facebook is, for better or for worse. The social network that has, through some clever marketing and business acquisitions, positioned itself as one of the biggest internet companies of the modern era, and has done its fair share in killing off either prospective business rivals or absorbing them into the blue and white coloured Facebook family. Despite the fact it’s free to set up an account, lets us communicate with long lost friends and family, and enables us to log in to a number of different websites by using our Facebook details, it is ultimately just another business that is out to make money and, perhaps most gallingly of all, ensure we all receive our fair share of Candy Crush Saga invites. It is this aspect in particular (the business model, not Candy Crush Saga) that The Social Network covers in great detail.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a fast talking computer expert who somewhat ironically is unliked by the majority of those whom he encounters. The story begins in 2003 with Zuckerberg blogging (negatively) about a girl who has recently spurned him. This leads to him collaborating with college friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) and them setting up an internal social network for college students at Harvard University, which soon expands and, if current expansions are to be understood correctly, will lead to Facebook taking over the world by 2020, Skynet style.
If Eisenberg’s interpretation of Zuckerberg spoke at normal speed, the film would be likely double its 2 hour running time. His Zuckerberg speaks at a million miles a minute, seemingly having so much in his head that it needs to be dumped on the world at the fastest possible speed. Based on reality or not, this movie version of Zuckerberg is an ironic creation in that he is the creator of the most expansive social network in the world yet is a thoroughly unlikeable person who doesn’t make friends easily. Indeed, he usually alienates those closest to him, and his attitude works as a commentary on our own social interactions as well as his own.
Fincher has come a long way since the Alien 3 debacle that started his feature film career. His direction is assured and confident, not overly flashy and tells the story in a clear and uncluttered manner. This is for the best given that much of the story follows Zuckerberg attending near-constant litigation and disciplinary meetings. Despite the frequent moments set in the meeting rooms with opposing counsel – which are gripping in their own right – the real meat of the story is in Zuckerberg’s relationship with both original business partner Eduardo and his subsequent litigation dispute with the Winklevoss twins, one played entirely by Armie Hammer, and the other’s body played by Josh Pence but the face again played by Armie Hammer thanks to some cunning use of CGI head replacement trickery.
His friendship with Sean Parker (the creator of Napster) aside, Zuckerberg is portrayed as somebody who will do whatever it takes to succeed. Rightly or wrongly, it makes for a far more compelling film than if he had been blundering his way through all of this and being incredibly nice. Whilst its basis on reality may be called into question, that doesn’t stop it from being a genuinely good character study and an analysis of the pressures of success.