Facebook launched at the beginning of 2004, with the goal of putting the entire social experience of college online. At that time, it was all about exclusivity, you had to have a Harvard.edu e-mail address, but the website that would soon change the world and how we communicate and interact was soon opened up to colleges across the country. In the fall of 2004, I was a freshman at the University of Oregon and within the first few weeks I'd heard people talking about something then called "thefacebook" and how it was finally at Oregon. Facebook fever took over the campus and just like in The Social Network, the new film that chronicles the beginnings of Facebook, the phrase "Facebook me" was now a part of our vernacular.
The Social Network stars Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Zombieland) as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and begins with Mark on a date with Erica Albright, played by Rooney Mara (of the forthcoming The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo remake). The two are engaged in a caustic conversation about Harvard's final clubs and their social importance, which leads to their breakup. Mark scurries back across campus and starts blogging about their breakup and creates Facemash.com, a site comparing the photos of all of the girls in Harvard's dorm system based on who's hotter, with the help of a chess algorithm from his best friend, Eduardo Saverin.
The site, which Mark creates on a drunken Saturday night, overloads the system and crashes Harvard's network in its few hours of operation. Mark's notoriety from the site spreads and leads him to the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, both played by Armie Hammer. The two tap into Mark to help them create an exclusive dating site called Harvard Connection, which he pretty much ignores and goes on to create Facebook on his own. The story weaves back and forth between the road to creating Facebook and the present when Mark is in litigation with both Eduardo and the Winklevoss twins.
Eisenberg's portrayal of the world's youngest billionaire is dazzling. In the past, we've seen him as the anxious nice guy who talks to himself in circles, but as Mark Zuckerberg, Eisenberg blends angst with confidence and extreme intelligence, coming off like he's trying too hard to be an a-hole. But that's fine, because ironically enough, with the launch of Facebook, Mark isn't trying to make any friends. Thanks to Aaron Sorkin's dialogue and the ruthless humanity infused by Eisenberg, Mark grabs your interest from the beginning an never lets go.
Across the board, the acting in The Social Network is amazing. Andrew Garfield, aka the new Spiderman, plays Eduardo, Mark's best friend. Eduardo invests the initial thousand dollars in Facebook and is named CFO. Garfield hits every mark, bringing humanity to the story, but he's left out in the cold when Facebook explodes. Justin Timberlake brings to life Napster co-founder Sean Parker, a party-boy entrepreneur who suggests dropping the "the" from thefacebook.com and brings in venture capitalists to invest in the company and send it soaring into the history books.
What's most interesting is how Facebook and the Internet changed the social landscape and the way people interact because of it. In the film, Mark blogs about his ex-girlfriend and muses about her supposed cup size. When he runs into her after Facebook's launch, she reminds him that the Internet isn't written in pencil, it's written in ink, which, based on society's interactions on social networking sites today,is a good reminder for the masses.
Just before Facebook is about to reach its one-millionth member, Eduardo's crazy girlfriend Christy (played by former Disney Channel star Brenda Song in a role that most definitely won't be re-airing on Disney) storms in on him demanding to know why his relationship status on his Facebook page says single. Though Christy goes over the top about it, the likeness is sure to resonate. Beyond the effects of Facebook, the film portrays college life in general in such an accurate light. Most films about college campus life are boisterous, unruly and full of frat- boy and hippie-girl stereotypes. The Social Network has a more realistic feel, despite the story itself, which has been embellished for cinematic flare and drama.
When watching The Social Network, viewers have to remember that despite being based on real people, it's not a biography and the actual Zuckerberg couldn't possibly be as much of a jerk as he's portrayed in the film. The filmmakers had no access to the real Zuckerberg, so they took artistic license in the story telling, including the possible creation of Erica Albright all together. The Social Network intensifies the drama and mixes in a touch of comedy, which is what makes it a truly great narrative film.
The Social Network
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake.
Directed by David Fincher.