Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Social Network

The Social Network is a witty, well-paced and intense movie about the lawsuits that surrounded the birth of Facebook. It's not, however, a movie about social networking – the drama revolves around the relationship between the founders, those who considered Facebook intellectual theft, and those who saw the potential of the social networking site.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, the intellectually precocious but socially inept computer geek who developed Facebook. It's not-so subtlety implied he appropriated the idea from three members of an exclusive fraternity, who wanted him to build a social networking site solely for students at Harvard University. Zuckerberg gets initial financial backing for Facebook from a fellow student, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). However, Saverin, is gradually eased out of his share by the arrival of Napster founder, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Sean Parker is played as a hyperactive narcissist, fond of expensive lunches and listening to the sound of his own voice. He's not a particularly sympathetic character. It's implied that he structured Facebook's venture-capitalist funding to dilute Eduardo's part-ownership of Facebook.

Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg with a single emotionless expression, with only his voice occasionally betraying his exasperation with other people. He has relatively few social skills and is unable to sustain romantic relationships, but is ruthlessly single-minded in his desired direction for Facebook. This alienates those around him, and it never appears that he has any real friends after Facebook took-off, just hangers-on.

The dialogue is witty and clever, and the soundtrack by Trent Reznor is suitably haunting.

I'm not clear how much of the movie is fiction, but its pace and style keeps your attention. But even though I'm not a class-hater, I found it hard to sympathize with any of the characters since the plot revolves about over-privileged Harvard students squabbling over a lawsuit settlement.

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