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					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.

				
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posted:9/23/2012
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