Saturday, October 2, 2010

A movie review: The Social Network (2010)

Director - David Fincher
120 min; PG-13
Jesse Eisenberg - Mark Zuckerberg
Andrew Garfield - Eduardo Saverin
Justin Timberlake - Sean Parker
Armie Hammer - Cameron Winklevoss
Josh Pence - Tyler Winklevoss

Like it or not, participate in it or not, we are all living in the world of Facebook. In just 7 years a program started in a Harvard dorm room by a genius programming student has morphed into a 25 billion dollar company and the clear cut favorite as the giant of 'social networking' that can now boast over 500 million members - 'friends'. How it came to be, well that is the subject of David Fincher's film The Social Network which tackles the 'too crazy to be true' story of young Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his founding of Facebook, though others have always laid claim that Mark stole the idea from them in a blatant way. This film does a wonderful job of weaving the story of 2 major lawsuits involving Zuckerberg and the back story to why they came about. Andrew Garfield is wonderful as Mark's only real friend, Eduardo, who fronts some of the money and is the chief financial officer of the start up site. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are two Olympic rowers who claim they had their idea stolen. Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) had already founded The music revolution of Napster and been sued out of everything by the time he met Mark and became involved in raising funds. And in the middle of it all sat Mark Zuckerberg, an anti-social behavior type who also secretly longed to belong to some of the most prominent groups.

The film is not billed as a truly true story, rather it takes many liberties with fictionalized notions of what may have happened. Much of the court proceedings were available to the filmmakers, but with the decline of Zuckerbger to be interviewed or to talk to anyone involved it was only the recollections of those around him that could be used to piece together the events that took place. So speaking of real life I cannot do, but speaking of the film I can say it is a wonderful success. Eisenberg portrays a brilliant programmer who sees the big picture but also seemingly has no care for the money he could be making nor for the basic moral compass that leads many people to stick up for their friends, not fire them.

In a nutshell the story is shown to us as a major multi-million dollar lawsuit against Zuckerberg for his supposed theft of the basic idea of Facebook from the Winklevoss twins who had approached him to help them construct a website called The Harvard Connection. While seemingly doing his work for them Mark was actually spending his time creating TheFacebook, a social site for college students based on many of the exact parameters set out by the Winklevoss twins as the basics for their site. Along with his friend Eduardo (who put up the start up funds for Facebook) Mark was able to very rapidly grow the website, even while being threatened with cease and desist letters. As the lightning like speed of growth continued a new face entered the scene - Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). Parker was a young prodigy himself having created the infamous Napster which is credited as leading to much of the downfall of the music industry. He saw his chance to cash in and soon he was a 7% owner of the company - Mark held 51%, Andrew 33%, another partner 7% and now new investors were starting to get their share of the pie.

The eventual lawsuits would lead to multi-million dollar settlements and Mark Zuckerberg is still the owner of Facebook. He has an estimated value of $25 billion dollars, yet his interest in money has never been strong. This film takes a look at an unreal true story of friendship and betrayal in a way which leads us to understand we will never know the full truth, but one thing we do understand is that when big money is involved, the meaning of friendship changes.

***** out of 5

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