The Social Network (12A)

Directed by David Fincher
Written by Aaron Sorkin and Ben Mezrich
On general release from 15th October 2010

Reviewed by Craig Kell

The phenomenon of modern technology has escalated over the past couple of decades but it is the internet which has proved to be the big stepping stone towards global success. However in 2003, a young, problematic student at Harvard University named Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea to create one of the most used websites in the computer age – Facebook – and make it a sensation across the world. But from then on, Zuckerberg was to encounter many obstacles along his journey to becoming the world's youngest billionaire, which would mainly include betrayal and lawsuits.

The story of how Facebook was created is adapted onto the big screen by renowned director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) and writer Aaron Sorkin, and emerges as one of the films of the year. With a solid cast, a masterful script and a production that should gain support from anyone involved with Facebook, including myself.

The desire of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Einsenberg) to create Facebook back in 2003 is triggered by him being dumped by his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara). She struggles to cope with his idealistic opinions about Harvard, resulting in him taking payback on her by posting a blog ridiculing her personality. This allows him to begin setting up an online social networking site originally titled Facesmash, to allow fellow Harvard users to create profiles of themselves.

With the help of best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), the pair finally begins to improve the website with crucial changes such as friend requests, wall posts and relationship statuses, and soon the site becomes an overnight success. But ultimately there are complications to that success with Zuckerberg facing legal action from twins based in Harvard who initially came up with the idea of a website similar to Facebook, and would make accusations that Zuckerberg stole their idea.

However, the website however continues to gain users, not just from universities but from around the world. Ultimately, the arrival of a fellow internet entrepreneur named Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) was to cause complications with the friendship between the young billionaire and his co-founder Eduardo, leading to a more personal legal battle between the pair. Nevertheless there is nothing to stop the global achievement that is Facebook, but it still impacts on the two people who made it all possible.

Many people will think The Social Network is about Facebook but in reality it isn't. It's about Mark Zuckerberg and the people associated with him and the consequences that occur with the evolution of Facebook. It's about friends being driven apart due to money and betrayal as seen through Zuckerberg and Saverin's fallout.

What makes the film so brilliant is an impeccable script by Aaron Sorkin and from the first scene of Zuckerberg being dumped by Erica to the last shot, the dialogue is just witty and so well written, one of the best scripts in recent years. In particular, the way the characters interact, e.g. Zuckerberg is never quite capable of shutting up and Eduardo always stops just short of explicating his emotions.

Director David Fincher also does a great job keeping the audience captivated at a considerable pace. It is completely different to his previous work, but is still another fabulous piece of work from him. Fincher also has the advantage of casting young actors, rather than major Hollywood actors, to step out of their comfort zones and deliver some truly phenomenal work which is justified by the performances of the three main actors. Jesse Einsenberg plays Zuckerberg as a cold, simplistic and determined genius, who knows what he wants, is very confident and will stop at nothing to get it.

His friend turned rival Eduardo is played with warmth and sympathy by British actor Andrew Garfield (recently cast as the new Peter Parker/Spiderman). That bromance is the heart of The Social Network and keeps the emotional factor of the film together. The big surprise though is pop diva turned actor Justin Timberlake, who plays Sean Parker as smooth yet smarmy as he comes into the film halfway and makes a big impact. The rest of the mainly unknown cast have their chance to shine as well, with shiny-eyed Rooney Mara showing her impact in two key scenes of the film - small but effective. This is also the latest Fincher film to feature great technical ability, with the editing side a crucial aspect as well as a riveting score (the end credits song spot on for a film about wealth).

Though this is a monumental film, there are a couple of big flaws that deny it the five star rating. The fact/fiction debate is something to dwell on especially with regards to the fallout between Zuckerberg and Severin, and whether the Erica character existed (possibly as a ploy for the emotional factor behind Zuckerberg's determination). The subject of women however is what leads to the controversy of the film, particularly with how they are presented. While Erica's character speaks the truth, the other females are shown as sexually obsessed and seedy, e.g. Parker's girlfriend parading around in a shirt and thong.

The Social Network is very compelling and it certainly keeps your attention all the way through, which is no small task considering the subject matter and the fact that it's all depositions and flashbacks. It is undoubtedly the Citizen Kane of our generation. But even with a stark portrayal of women and a segment of the film being fiction, this is one of the early contenders for the Oscars and from me certainly, this film deserves recognition and gets a "like" from me!

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