The Social Network

review of The Social Network
photo They say that there are those that lead, those that follow, and those who get out of the way. There possibly is no better way to reflect our culture in this new century than by this credo. The computer culture and the explosion of the internet in the last ten years or so have accomplished two things: they have created demand and thusly created opportunity. Demand by the followers and opportunity for the leaders.

The beauty of opportunity is its simply being there. The hard part about opportunity is knowing how to take advantage of it. This country was founded on invention, on progress and advancement. None of this happens without visionaries, without those who know how to seize an opportunity, be it of time, location or circumstance, and turn it into something. We are a culture that embraces progress, and there possibly has never been a more fertile time for the visionaries than right now, when technology rules the world and people have never been so ready to walk through new doors that are opened to them. Show us the future and we will buy it.

We’ve all heard that The Social Network is a film about precisely this societal group-hug we’ve given to the possibilities of the new age. Social networking is the latest way that the visionaries have discovered to capitalize on the seemingly endless opportunities of this new digital and connected age we live in. But at what cost?

The Social Network is about these opportunities and their costs. It is a film of our time. It is not only a freeze-frame of our internet-obsessed culture of the moment, but it also, at its core, examines a deeper human principle: nice guys finish last.

Just as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates emerged from their world-altering inventions and seized opportunities as self-made billionaires whose visions have impacted generations, so has Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, the world’s #1 social networking website. Zuckerberg’s story is right for the telling, as Facebook has achieved a popularity around the world unseen by any other technological advancement since the internet began. Just as iTunes changed the music business and how we get and listen to our favorite songs, Facebook changed the way we connect to one another. In a time when the world is getting smaller with each passing second, Facebook, in just six short years, has brought everyone together. For free.

The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, is Zuckerberg’s story, or rather, the story of how his idea—the germ of an idea, even—turns into something massive, global and incredibly lucrative and the inevitable fallout from its success. In order for there to be a movie, there has to be drama and Zuckerberg apparently has no shortage of conflict in his life. Jesse Eisenberg plays him as a hollow and uncaring genius, almost a villain, while his detractors, including his disgruntled former partner, Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield) are seen in a much more flattering light. Choosing to stay away from being a character study, however, The Social Network instead centers on Zuckerberg’s relentless pursuit of his idea, which would eventually become Facebook, through its various incarnations, until the human toll it takes finally catches up with him—and even then, he is unmoved. If you’re looking for insight as to who Mark Zuckerberg is and what motivates him, this film offers no easy answers. And that is just why it works.

No matter how you feel about Zuckerberg’s character personally—perhaps one of the most unlikable protagonists you’ll come across—it’s the journey of his idea that takes center stage and keeps you glued to your chair. Fincher’s absolutely seamless direction, in large part aided by Aaron Sorkin’s captivating and dense script, makes The Social Network play like a riveting courtroom drama instead of a nerds-playing-with-their-computers movie. This is a movie about potential and all the ways it can tempt, tease and torture. What does it take to turn something good into something great? What is the motivation behind the relentless pursuit of the unknown? What would you sacrifice to make it happen?

The Social Network is a movie about nerds and their computers, this is true. But what makes it exciting are these questions and their uneasy answers. Everything about this movie works, from the stellar performances of Eisenberg, Garfield and the menacingly good Justin Timberlake to the raw and haunting score by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross. There is some amazing CGI in this as well, which you really wouldn’t expect and aren’t even supposed to know about—so good, in fact, it makes me want to see the movie again just to see if it can fool me twice.

Overall, The Social Network is a movie that should be seen. Not because it’s so relevant, but because it’s so good. I bought it.