Many have been calling The Social Network a generational movie. The reasoning is obvious, as Facebook has completely changed the way a generation communicates and expresses itself. I won’t deny “the Facebook movie” isn’t a generational film, but if it is, it’s for different reasons. As the great critic James Berardinelli of Reelviews.net pointed out: “(the film’s) forays into exploring how social networking has changed the 21st century cultural landscape are facile and unsatisfying.” So instead, we have a film that doesn’t try to establish the vastness of the Internet era, but one that kicks back to Shakespeare and tells a tale of friendship and betrayal. The film opens to The White Stripes’ “Ball and Biscuit” as Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) discusses exclusive Harvard clubs with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara). Mark talks her head off to the point where she says, “Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster.” Our first taste of Mark: he has a sharp mouth that doesn’t know when to stop. A combination of Mark’s desire to be part of a club and his subtle insult of Erica display his social ineptitude is a wacky parallel of a boy who would go on to essentially create the ultimate social network. This scene also displays the simple, yet often misused act of character syntax. While characters are often introduced casually or in the background, The Social Network dedicates screen time to each character in an effort to understand them. Even as Mark tries to win back Erica after she breaks up with him, he can’t help but insult her at the same time. This let’s us into Marks tragic flaw from the get-go: he strikes down those closest to him to achieve victory. Whether it’s intellectually or monetarily, Mark always sends a message. The Winklevoss twins, both played by Armie Hammer, come to Mark with an idea for a social networking site for Harvard students. When introduced, the “Winklevi” are dominating a rowing race with profound confidence. So it’s no accident that the second time we see them racing, after Mark has essentially stolen their website, they narrowly lose. This is the first of Mark’s betrayals, as his best friend Eduardo points out that Mark was offended by the Winklevoss’ desire to rebuild his image after being placed on academic probation. Mark is one to hold grudges, as we will find out. The interaction between Mark and the Winklevoss’ is a classic villain vs. villain dogfight, but Mark’s double-cross of Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) is one for the ages. The irony that Mark betrayed his only friend while creating a network that connected millions of friends exists within itself, but the power of the feud resonates throughout the film. It really begins with Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the instigator that divided Mark and Eduardo. Mark is attracted to Sean because he sees himself: behind the glamor, Sean is against monetizing Facebook for the moment and wants to keep it cool. “You know what’s cooler than a million dollars?” he asks. “A billion dollars.” His metaphors of trout vs. marlins grabs Mark’s attention, but also paints a portrait of Sean: a paranoid smooth-talker who depends on the trust of others to succeed. He takes a liking to Mark, but strays from Eduardo, who isn’t impressed by Sean’s suaveness. After he reels Mark in, Sean forces himself into the company and arranges several meetings that launched Facebook into what it is today. Eduardo’s inability to do the same, who was originally CFO and the business-end of Facebook, leads to his bitter freezing of all Facebook accounts. The muted distrust between Mark and Eduardo two snowballs gradually. We’ll never know if Mark planted the story in Harvard’s newspaper, The Crimson, about Eduardo feeding his pet chicken a piece of chicken, forced cannibalism. We’ll never know if Eduardo sicked the police on Sean’s cocaine-coated celebration party. Once Eduardo realizes Mark diluted his shares in Facebook to 0.03%, he claims Mark was jealous because he was initiated into one of the exclusive Harvard clubs Mark wanted so badly to be a part of. Even during the high-point of Facebook becoming a multi-million dollar business, the two resort to petty jealousies they held in college. This is proof alone that this isn’t just “a movie about Facebook,” but a film that examines human conflict that runs deeper than a company worth billions of dollars. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is set for an Oscar win, and for good reason. In addition to perfectly building towards Mark’s betrayal, Sorkin manages to tell the tale through flashbacks from two court cases, in which the Winklevoss’ and Eduardo are suing Mark. He also produces many great scenes full of symbolism: During the initial launch of Facebook, Eduardo grabbs two beers from the fridge for him and Mark, but Mark grabs his own. Don’t even get me started on all the memorable one-liners that will result from this film, most notable when Tyler Winklevoss expresses his desire to pummel Mark by saying, “I’m six-five, 220 pounds, and there are two of me.” Director David Fincher, who sometimes takes on scripts below his capabilities, finds the perfect tale. His use of dark colors and carefully placed shots reflect the screenplay’s grimness perfectly. In addition, his direction within scenes always keeps the film moving forward. While Mark is discussing a code he is writing for a website, which may seem as gibberish to most, Fincher carefully moves throughout different sectors of campus. While we learn how gifted Mark is, at the same time Fincher allows the viewer to get a taste of Harvard life as well. Fincher is also a great actor’s director. His strenuous process of reviewing the script with his actors is expected, but it’s the little things that count. On set, Fincher requested Mark’s backpack have a sander taken to it for a worn-out look, more suitable to his personality. The Winklevoss’ class schedule was printed in their dorm room set. Hammer noted how seeing that schedule put him in character. This sort of direction undoubtedly led to a standout performance from Eisenberg. Eisenberg really entertains with his eyes, which have a coldness to them; he can seem soulless and distracted, but then turn on the quick wit at any moment. And how cool would it be for Justin Timberlake to receive an Oscar nomination? It would be well-deserved, as Timberlake meshes his own outgoing personality perfectly with Sean’s. In the end, The Social Network is a biopic that features an engrossing character with a tragic flaw. And, like any good biopic, his flaw leads to a demise and realization that helps the audience better understand him. Mark created the most revolutionary website of all time and became the world’s youngest billionaire, but at what cost? Fincher made the mistake of mentioning his film in the same breath as Citizen Kane, which the dramatic critic Armond White jumped all over. White may want you to believe Fincher glorifies Mark Zuckerberg, but the truth is actually closer to Citizen Kane than White feels comfortable admitting. Zuckerberg is neither demonized nor sympathized with, but justifiably humanized like any great villain should be.