The Social Network
(M) Jesse Eisenberg, Armie Hammer
Imagine Facebook had been invented by a Christian, to spread the Good News as well as good times. Talk about a great commissioning!
Without being entirely certain of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s beliefs, The Social Network doesn’t depict him as having put in a friend request with Jesus. Or that his intentions were ever more than a desire to show off, be popular and get rich.
Instead, Fight Club director David Fincher’s movie about Zuckerberg constructing Facebook — and the subsequent lawsuits slapped upon the World’s Youngest Billionaire — paints the Harvard drop-out as a selfish, egotistical brainbox who seems pathologically condescending to everyone he meets.
Using the book The Accidental Billionaires as his launchpad, The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin has admitted that his The Social Network script doesn’t necessarily represent the facts about what happened in the inner sanctum of Facebook.
Zuckerberg the film character, brilliantly played by Jesse Eisenberg, is intelligently aloof to the point of obnoxiousness. Sympathy is hard to dredge up as Zuckerberg navigates accusations of theft (and subsequent lawsuits) with Machiavellian calm.
Fame, greed, betrayal, envy and lust and swirl about Zuckerberg and other key players, including Napster showman Sean Parker (played with rock’n’roll allure by Justin Timberlake).
Fincher and Sorkin don’t seem especially concerned with unearthing the truth; instead they linger on the characters involved and how a global juggernaut built on “friends” boasts incredible disconnect at its core.
Zuckerberg may not be as unlikeable in real life as he is on screen but his woeful relationship skills are well documented (Exhibit A: his former best friend and business partner, Eduardo Saverin, suing Zuckerberg for millions).
Contrast this with how online connections are digital shadows of the real-life thing, and The Social Network subtly comments upon the nature of modern interaction.
Sorkin’s version of recent history also accurately imitates how the internet has fostered the false assumption that anything printed must be credible.
Ben McEachen is Reviews Editor, Empire Magazine.