The Social Network (dir. David Fincher, 2010) – Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg launches the social networking site Facebook, but is sued by the Winklevoss twins who claim he stole their idea.
While factually ambiguous, The Social Network effectively translates a potentially linear biography into a powerful universal story.
In just a few years, Facebook has become a global addiction. The largest social network in the world has become almost synonymous with its key inventor Mark Zuckerberg, but The Social Network comes as a reminder that it takes more than one man to build a phenomenon.
Despite the name, the film is not about Facebook. Rather, it deals with the relatable peaks and valleys of aspirations behind closed doors. Behind the enterprise lies a timeless story, in which the on-screen Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) discovers the cost of over-ambition.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin takes huge liberties for dramatisation. But despite invented details, the film remains immersive and grounded as a work of fiction. His sharp writing draws universal themes out of Zuckerberg’s relationships in both friendship and business, lost due to his misguided aspirations.
At the ease of how close-knit friendships fall apart, Sorkin drives the point home. Once close friends with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Zuckerberg starts to cosy up to Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), whom he sees as pivotal to Facebook’s success.
It takes little time for Zuckerberg to drift apart from Saverin, enough to kick the latter out of business. Problems pile on when the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) sue Zuckerberg, claiming Facebook as their original idea.
In the portrayal of the manifold implications, Sorkin and director David Fincher make an impeccable pair. Backed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ gorgeous ambient score, they keep up the stifling sense of irreparability as things continue to fall apart. The fast-moving events effectively capture the costly price of arrogance and impulse.
Much is owed to the cocksure delivery of Jesse Eisenberg and the sympathetic amiability of Andrew Garfield, the pair sharing an essential chemistry. Quick-witted dialogue sends them through the phases, with no passing judgement on either end.
A well-crafted story changes perceptions of a happy ending, with the worth of success redefined when all else is lost. Conflicts that stem from pride seem so utterly avoidable, which is what makes the resultant fallout the more evocative.