“You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”
If you don’t know this logline from David Fincher’s (“Fight Club”, “…Benjamin Button” ) subtly smart film, “The Social Network”, based on the book of the same name written by Ben Mezrich, you might know that beer-addled computer genius Mark Zuckerberg sat down at his laptop in his Harvard dorm room and came up with what would become FACEBOOK making Mark the youngest billionaire in history in only 6 years.
You also might know (I didn’t! ) Zuckerberg was not a warm, fuzzy guy. As depicted In Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant script, told from the depositions of two lawsuits, socially inept Zuckerberg never hugged, rarely smiled, and managed to keep friends at bay with painfully barbed wit. He is so disengaged, so cryptic and so-in-his-head that I kept asking myself, why do I like this guy? Two words. Jesse Isenberg.
With a line load that would choke a horse, Jesse manages to get the technical jargon down, talk as fast as possible and win us over with a humanity that seeps through the brown edges of this character. We root for him in spite of what could be called diabolical moves made on his only friend. Or did he? It’s this ‘not knowing what really happened’ that keeps us glued to the end.
Told from many perspectives, each player denying they were complicit in the harsh betrayals, the paybacks, the striving for success, the machinations to fit in, we never really know who to blame. Or do we? I couldn’t say it better than Matt Goldberg posted on October 1.
“It’s been said that “This is the movie Facebook (i.e. Zuckerberg) doesn’t want you to see,” but the Zuckerberg presented in The Social Network is almost a tragic figure… and yet the script and Eisenberg’s phenomenal performance makes us pity the man who feels like he has to say such hurtful things in the first place. Where Facebook and Co. may take umbrage isn’t in Mark’s Sorkin-scripted-words, but Zuckerberg’s supposed actions.”
What humanizes him, though, from the Linda Bergman perspective, is the pain he obviously feels when he loses the one thing he covets more than his success – his ex-girlfriend (Rooney Mara) who dumps him in a delicious opening scene that only Sorkin could write. An opening scene that as Goldberg says, “…lays its protagonist bare while still keeping him intriguing and hints at the motives that would drive him…”
Eisenberg is hard to top, but the supporting performances are stellar under Fincher’s crafty, spare direction. I loved Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker the smarmy but entirely watchable entrepreneur that stirs the partner’s rift and Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s long-suffering partner, Eduardo Saverin. And, Did You Know? David Fincher enjoyed working with Rooney Mara so much, he cast her in the highly coveted role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
I wouldn’t be surprised if Isenberg is nominated for an Oscar and “The Social Network” nominated for best picture. If you haven’t already, go see it!
Rated PG 13 for sexual content, drug, and alcohol use, and language. Running time 2 hours.