The Social Network

The National Society of Film Critics picked The Social Network as the best film of 2010, so I felt obligated to go see it. I didn’t think a movie about rich, nerdy college students could possibly be that good. It is based on the true story of the founding of Facebook.

The film begins in 2003 when Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is an undergraduate student at Harvard. A computer stunt that crashes the school’s computer system makes him a notorious man on campus. The Winklevoss brothers (both played by Armie Hammer) hire him to build a social network site for Harvard students. Zuckerberg takes the idea and runs with it – but without the Winklevoss brothers. He gets his friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), to put up the money to start his new business. Zuckerberg calls his new social networking site “The Facebook”, and Saverin becomes its CFO. Zuckerberg eventually meets Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster. Parker becomes Zuckerberg’s Mephistopheles, helping him to aggressively expand Facebook. He and Zuckerberg conspire to force Saverin out of the company. The film is mainly told through flashbacks during discovery meetings for lawsuits brought by the Winklevoss brothers and by Saverin against Zuckerberg. The film has a “money can’t buy happiness” ending.

Zuckerberg comes off as not really a bad person, just self-absorbed and insensitive. There is an implied irony in the fact that a man with poor social skills creates the world’s most successful social networking site. Since the film is a fictionalized account, I don’t know whether or not it fairly represents any of the people involved. The acting is pretty good though. Eisenberg is believably geeky as Zuckerberg. Timberlake exudes a devilish charm as Parker.

I found The Social Network funny and entertaining, but I do not think that it is a better film than A Prophet or Winter’s Bone. I can only guess that film critics like to watch movies that portray rich people as back-stabbing assholes. So it appears that film critics do have class consciousness.

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