Defining a generation’s pastime: ‘The Social Network’ exceeds expectations

“The Social Network” has it all: sex, money, genius and betrayal.

So says the title of the book by Ben Mezrich, “The Accidental Billionaires,” off of which this excellent film about Facebook’s controversial beginnings is based.

Turn the clock back to 2003. Harvard undergraduate student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is in a constant battle to humiliate his foes and one-up the alpha-male socialites he hates.

Zuckerberg’s number one weapon: the Internet.

In one master stroke,  Zuckerberg shuts down the Harvard servers with the help of his roommate and best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).

This draws the attention of a group of entrepreneurs that want to build a Harvard-only social networking site, more or less inspiring Zuckerberg to invent the now legendary site Facebook.

The entire story is told through flashbacks during meetings between Zuckerberg and the two parties that were suing him:  his ex-best friend Saverin and the trio of entrepreneurs with their respective lawyers.

Saverin is suing Zuckerberg for eliminating him from the company and the entrepreneurs wanted compensation for their idea.

Keep in mind that the veracity of “The Accidental Billionaires,” and thus, “The Social Network” can be debated. In an author’s note, Mezrich said some conversations and scenes were recreated and compressed.

Before taking the story into account, or what is some of the best cinematography filmmakers  have offered audiences this year, I should note that Eisenberg is an amazing actor who has come a very long way since one of his earlier roles in the horror/comedy “Zombieland.”

He is nothing short of amazing in his role as a scathing, socially awkward nerd with an axe to grind.

His co-stars are just as great. Garfield did not struggle with his role a single time throughout the film.

Justin Timberlake plays the creator of Napster, Sean Parker, and is a lot less annoying than I expected.

Parker is a conniving, paranoid and manipulative character, and Timberlake played him nearly perfect.

The plot moves quickly, and I hardly realized two hours had gone by.

Between Zuckerberg’s smarter-than-thou speech and the film’s dramatic subject-matter, the movie felt tiring, but the musical duo of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and the cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth balanced everything out.

Director David Fincher of “Fight Club” fame put together a fantastic film.

Only at one point was I ever confused about what was going on, and it was relatively early in the movie when it was not clear that two separate cases were taking place.

There is a small scene in the film that proves it is a visual masterpiece. Two of the antagonists, the Winklevoss twins, competitively row and their match is used as a segue to a crucial scene.

The changes in depth of field on the rowers’ movements provide for  phenomenal visuals.

Put together, the film is compelling to watch.

The composition is perfect.

What is particularly entertaining  is watching the scenarios that led Zuckerberg to invent different aspects of the site, such as the inclusion of the relationship status.

I feel like I need to see the movie a second time to really assess how well “The Social Network” will stand the test of time.

Will it be a movie that I want to buy for my own personal collection or is it a see it once and be happy with the experience type of film?

I’m not sure, but no matter what, “The Social Network” is not purely about Facebook, it is about people out to make friends, settle scores and find fame.


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