by Thomas Delapa
With a friend like Mark Zuckerberg, you obviously don’t need enemies.
In The Social Network, writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher flip through the dirty back pages in the life of the whiz-kid billionaire Facebook founder, and it all makes for a good and juicy read, but a slick one.
Those in need of a heavy volume of dramatic irony will find it in this breezy chronicle, which shows how one lonely, brilliant misfit can make a million virtual friends and several fortunes while deleting all his real friends in his rise to the top of the Internet heap. Call it Revenge of the 'Net Nerds when Harvard undergrad Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) has the idea of a “cool” way for his fellow students to connect and form friendships online–not to mention get girls.
But along with his vision of a brave new virtual world, Zuckerberg’s own profile includes a marked like for smart-ass sarcasm, double-dealing and outright betrayal, judging by this biopic based on Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires. Did Zuckerberg copy his idea from two rich Harvard frat boys and then cheat his best friend Eduardo Saverin out his rightful stake in the company?
In zippy jigsaw flashbacks, Fincher and Sorkin paste together the genesis of the now-holy Facebook, but they also make the connection between Zuckerberg and the revolutionary zeitgeist mindset that places the impersonal virtual world head and shoulders over the real one. Starting with Eisenberg, Fincher’s young faces turn in impressive performances, including Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder Sean Parker, who slithers in as Zuckerberg’s Silicon Valley Mephistopheles.
As well as The Social Network works with its wit and drive, it also leaves you unsatisfied on a deeper level, not unlike Fincher’s Fight Club and his other punchy contemporary dramas. He and Sorkin are so busy turning the Facebook/Zuckerberg pages, they don’t seem to much care about what’s going on between the lines.
Originally published in The Perpetual Post, 10/7/10