Director: David Fincher.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake.
A MOVIE about Facebook could easily have been as boring as most people’s status updates, but in the hands of The West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin and Fight Club director David Fincher, this is an engrossing look into the birth of one of this century’s biggest cultural phenomenons.
Moving backward and forward through time, the film tracks the website’s creator Mark Zuckerberg (played with quiet intensity by the excellent Eisenberg) and his rise to fame and infamy through the site’s creation and subsequent lawsuits.
Accusations that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from some fellow Harvard students provide the central plot tension, with added dramatic punch from Zuckerberg’s friendship with site co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Garfield).
Zuckerberg is not shown in a flattering light, but makes for a compelling character. The great irony is that the biggest player in the social networking boom proved to be someone so socially retarded he borders on sociopathic at times. Eisenberg’s performance as Zuckerberg, and Sorkin’s script, paint the Facebook guru as arrogant and almost completely bereft of people skills, yet so talented and driven that you still feel for him.
The measured and balanced turn by Eisenberg is excellent and backed by stellar support from Garfield and Timberlake, who plays Napster creator and one-time Facebook backer Sean Parker with suitable rock star flair. Sorkin’s high-speed dialogue is relentless (and delivered superbly by all), but for a film so talk-driven, it rarely becomes too much.
The Social Network does peter out a bit towards the end and struggles to find a suitable note to finish on, but this is another winner from a nicely restrained Fincher.