The Social Network (Review)

Mark Zuckerberg – Prisoner to his own tagline.

I am not on Facebook. I have not “resisted the urge”, there has been no urge. I could care less about letting marginal acquaintances know about how I am feeling, where I holidayed or what my relationship status is. I’ve always said my mobile phone directory lists everyone that I need to know, but that’s a lie, most of the numbers are work related. I have around 20 something names there, friends and family… that’s it.

They can call me direct and ask my favourite fucking colour.

In fact the above is pretty much all I know about Facebook, and I just watched the movie about its development from a germ of an idea in someone (else’s) mind all the way to 500M and counting.

My initial impression? I still don’t get Facebook, fine it’s OK if you have long distance friends or family but aside from that it is merely people saying “Look. Acknowledge my existence!”

And The Social Network is also a mystery to me, sure it’s an OK film but best of the year??? I get the distinct impression that people are more impressed with a smart kid more comfortable in a hoodie and thongs who started a global phenomenon upon the realisation that people everywhere just want to be acknowledged, thought of… accepted.

Unfortunately after seeing the film it seems everyone else is more impressed with the story and the achievement that even the creator of the site Mark Zuckerberg.

As for my opinion – good for you Mark – but I still don’t plan on signing up – and good for you David Fincher – I still love your work but don’t get the clamour for this one.


The Social Network follows Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from the point where he first envisions the genesis of Facebook in 2003 all the way through to the point where things go awry and other parties sue him for many millions.

The story is quite linear with only a few intercuts with his court hearings to show this is based upon those versions of events. And at this time I must say that these seem to me to be quite dramatised versions of events.

If I might paraphrase a character in the film, who near the conclusion of the film says something along the lines of: “Where emotion is involved, I assume 85% of testimony is exaggerated – the other 15% is perjury”. That’s how I feel about this film, most of it seems way too neat and convenient, some of it reeks of poetic (bullshit) license.

I won’t bother with the plot of The Social Network given it is so straightforward aside from this:

Zuckerberg comes across the idea after being dumped and starts a revenge site which gathers immense and immediate popularity. He takes this info, pinches more of the idea from other students who approach him for assistance (the Winklevoss twins), then takes finance from his best and only mate Eduardo, making him CFO while Zuckerberg himself starts as CEO.

The Facebook (as it was originally known) grows in popularity so they look to expand, a meeting with Napster founder Shaun Parker (Justin Timberlake) tells them that more than being on the right track this idea could prove massive (speaking with the benefit of hindsight I might say “DUHHH”).

Unfortunately a rift grows between Eduardo and Shaun over the direction of the company, and Mark finds he is to be sued by the Winklevoss twins over his theft of their basic idea. To put the cherry on the sundae it appears that Eduardo is pursuing legal action of his own, though we don’t find out the specifics behind that decision until later.

That really isn’t the interesting part – after all it happens every month in big business – someone sues someone over an idea, project or product, blah-blah-blah turn the page. The interest here is in the three primary characters themselves.

Eduardo seems is a handsome, nice guy with both commercial and social aspirations. He longs to be accepted into the elite factions at Harvard – something Mark appears to resent – and wants to be the one responsible for growing the Facebook organically and at his pace. It unfortunately seems though that at times he is a little out of his depth – especially once the big bucks start rolling…

Shaun Parker on the other hand is already “there”, having formed Napster in his teens – to steal a girlfriend, a recurring theme perhaps? – and made a bunch of money. Shaun seems to resent any implication that he failed or sold out because Napster was shut down, pointing to his millions and his Victoria Secret model dates. Shaun revels in his success and lifestyle and wants to climb the mountain again by more or less piggybacking Zuckerberg’s idea.

Shaun is charismatic, enigmatic and energetic, but his main input to the creative process is continually imploring Mark to simply “AIM BIG”.

“Look Jesse, I do smile sometimes!”

Mark Zuckerberg is by far the most polarising character in the film – strangely enough given the title he is isn’t effectively Socially (I can’t remember him smiling in the entire film, nor does he attempt at any time to be polite), and he doesn’t enjoy any aspect of Networking (he conducts interviews in dirty hoodies and thongs). He is far more book smart than street or business smart. Cold, clinical and 110% logical (he’d quickly point out that isn’t possible), Mark doesn’t see things the same way “normal” people see them.

To Mark it is not a matter of whether he stole the Facbook idea or not, it is if the original proposal would have been possible with anyone else in control. He is positive that is not the case and argues it constantly, shortcutting multiple leading questions from lawyers by cutting straight to the chase in blunt and insulting fashion. Small talk and interrogative strategy are pointless as Mark is constantly operating some 5 or 6 steps ahead, seeing things that even the questioner hasn’t yet commenced.

It is more than fair to say Mark does not suffer the obvious or lawyer’s attempts at cornering him. However the fact remains that he is so dispassionate and unfeeling at all around him – even as the events conspire to see him suffer – he simply wants the truth – or at least his truth – out in the open so he can go about feeding his need to expand Facebook.

At one point he pauses proceedings to state clearly “I don’t hate anybody”, he definitely feels that everyone is beneath him though – perhaps we are not worthy of his emotion?

He is a fascinating character study. If you believe that the portrayal is in any way realistic that is – and reading a few articles it seems that Zuckerberg himself and those close to him claim this is not the case. Which again brings me back to my primary point: The Social Network is a heavily dramatised account of a series of events that lead to the formation of Facebook, and the ensuing legal battles. It is a straightforward, interesting but hardly riveting 2 hours with a fair degree of fabrication.

Take my favourite example: Shaun strongly suggests at dinner on the East Coast that Mark and Eduardo take the operation West as that is where the action is. Later that year Mark goes alone with some staff to California, they are fooling around at the back of their rented accommodation and the chimney is damaged – a knock at the door follows – it is Shaun who was passing by, saw the roof damage and thought he might check it out…

Seriously! Shaun – a multi-millionaire by the way – just happened to be chillaxing his way down a random Californian street with a young lady and thought he might be required to assist a stranger who just happened to be Mark Zuckerberg? I repeat- Seriously?

Don’t try to sell me on the acting tour de forces either, Eisenberg (who I like) did hardly anything to differentiate Zuckerberg from his character in Adventureland, and Timberlake played a cocky smarmy git who just wants everyone to respect, like and adore him – Gee what a stretch!

Anyway moving on. The lingering impression I got of both Mark Zuckerberg and Shaun Parker is that they are cocky young kids with superior IQs and bad attitudes revelling in childish revenge fantasies. Shaun against everyone who ever doubted him, Mark against some unknown fear of being unacknowledged.

I think many film critics and fans of this film aren’t really looking too deep into the film itself but somehow giving tacit approval for a website that serves to do little more than expend time and to let near strangers know that you are still there and relevant to somebody.

Final Rating – 7 / 10. Tells the story of perhaps the world’s first “logic-savant”.  I have a hard time gauging how accurate this all is – and rationalising how entertaining some found it to be.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
This entry was posted in Film, Movie Reviews, Worthwhile Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.