One thing is for sure: David Fincher has done it again with The Social Network. But what is it that he’s done, exactly?
If The Social Network is just a movie, Facebook is just a website— and, at one point, it was. The film follows a brilliant young programmer, Mark Zuckerberg as he ruthlessly makes his way from unnoticed college dormling to America’s youngest billionaire and CEO of the popular social site. And it’s based on a true story! Or is it?
After leaving the theater, most viewers of the film will want to go only one place: online. A few might Google, “Winklevoss twins” to see if the real Harvard rowers (plaintiffs in a claim suit over the invention of Facebook) are honestly as god-like in physique as a replicated Armie Hammer. Most, however, will be fact-checking, plumbing the confusing depths Zuckerberg’s legal battles and his private life.
Some might be disappointed when they find out that much of the film is conjecture and dramatization, adapted from the convoluted narrative in Ben Mezrich’s novel, The Accidental Billionaires. The movie’s screenwriter, Anthony Sorkin has acknowledged the fictional nature of his treatment. “I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling,” he said in an interview with New York magazine. “What is the big deal about accuracy purely for accuracy’s sake?”
I’m with Sorkin on this one; a good film is a good film. Whether or not the story told in the film actually happened, it is insightfully conceived, masterfully crafted, and provocatively delivered. Co-stars Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Mara Rooney, and even Justin Timberlake contribute strong performances but it is Jesse Eisenberg that steals the show.
His Zuckerberg —the scrawny embodiment of ambition— is as chillingly inaccessible as he is disconcertingly familiar. The viewer might be disturbed to recall something of the impetuous programmer in some friend or family member or co-worker. It’s no wonder that a few critics are crying Oscar.
Overall, the film’s frenetic pace and scathing volleys of dialogue are fascinating and cap off with an ending that is utterly engaging. Better than a boring biopic filled with quotes and figures, The Social Network is a film that merges fact and fiction into a forceful chimera of emotion and entertainment.