By Helen Mannion
It’s February 2004. OutKast and Alicia Keys are topping the charts. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson are in the midst of a scandal after a Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction. And Mark Zuckerberg is about to change the world.
The Social Network, based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, directed by David Fincher (Fight Club) and written by Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson’s War), begins in 2003 at Harvard University. Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, Adventureland) and his girlfriend (Rooney Mara, A Nightmare on Elm Street) are sitting in a bar debating about Harvard’s elite final clubs. After hearing Zuckerberg’s abrasive and fast-moving opening speech, it’s no surprise that his girlfriend immediately dumps him.
Post breakup, Zuckerberg runs back to his dorm and takes to his blog, bashing his ex. His postings lead to the creation of FaceMash.com, where Harvard students could rate their fellow students on who’s hot and who’s not. The site, and Zuckerberg, literally became overnight sensations, causing the Harvard servers to crash.
FaceMash.com’s success draws interest from the Winklevoss twins, Cameron (Armie Hammer, Gossip Girl) and Tyler (Josh Pence), who were looking to create The Harvard Connection, a social networking site for Harvard students. Zuckerberg listens to the proposal, agrees to help them, and then proceeds to ignore all calls and messages from the twins.
With the help of his best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) and his roommate, Dustin Moskovitz (Joseph Mazzello, The Pacific), Zuckerberg creates thefacebook.com.
The site takes off, and the Winklevoss twins soon find out. They try everything to stop the website and argue theft of intellectual property all the way to court, which only fuels Zuckerberg’s desire to expand.
The expansion makes it all the way to Stanford, and Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake, Alpha Dog), the co-founder of Napster, gets word. Much to Saverin’s chagrin, Zuckerberg has a business dinner with Parker in New York and they discuss all of the opportunities for thefacebook.com. Parker mesmerizes Zuckerberg and he decides to take Facebook and his staff, except Saverin, to California for the summer.
While Saverin is off at a summer internship in New York, Zuckerberg adds Parker to the Facebook team and begins taking the site across the pond. Tensions rise between Zuckerberg and Saverin over Parker, and Zuckerberg eventually betrays his best friend, leaving him with almost nothing.
The film has an open ending, leaving it up to the viewer to interpret the outcome. Eisenberg gives the performance of his young career, surpassing his previous works significantly. He plays the character so well that you don’t know whether to think of him as a hero or a villain. His performance is even generating Oscar buzz for Best Actor.
Garfield also gives a breakout performance, one that will no doubt launch his career. Timberlake also really gets a chance to show a different side of himself, leaving the viewer wondering what else he is capable of.
Overall, the film is nothing short of brilliant. The young cast brings freshness and depth to the story. The plot is engaging and appealing to our generation, which wants to see how this integral part of our everyday lives came to be.
Mark Zuckerberg changed our generation forever. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll friend The Social Network immediately.