The first thing that everyone wants to know about The Social Network is whether this is the true story of how Mark Zuckerberg and a few of his Harvard classmates created Facebook, or is it just some sort of scurrilous fabrication? I don’t know the answer. The movie relies heavily on the depositions of people who ended up suing Zuckerberg, so it seems fair to say that at the very least it is biased.
However from the standpoint of a movie review I don’t think it is really important whether this is a slightly fictionalized dramatization of real events or a collection of bitter paranoid fantasies from a bunch of sore losers. What is important is how this movie stacks up as entertainment. Citizen Kane, after all, had only the most tenuous connection to the real life of William Randolph Hearst, but it is still generally regarded as a great movie.
This isn’t Citizen Kane, but it is still pretty darn good. It Is witty and entertaining. The computer and business technical details, while probably not exactly right, still sound far more plausible than the usual Hollywood efforts. The actors do a convincing job of portraying some rather unique characters. And the movie even has its own version of a “Rosebud” ending.
Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg as a brilliant, insensitive and somewhat ruthless jerk. In the opening scene he is dumped by his girlfriend for being too obnoxious. This leads to a drunken but ingenious revenge scheme, which brings him to the attention of a pair of arrogant blue-blooded twins (Armie Hammer) who have a vague idea for a social network, but lack the ability to implement it. Zuckerberg cheerfully appropriates the idea and improves on it, eventually resulting in the site that everyone today hates but can’t live without.
Initially Zuckerberg depends on the financial support and business acumen of his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). But Saverin’s vision isn’t grand enough, and he ends up being pushed aside by the very charismatic and very sleazy Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake, who rather steals the show.)
Naturally this project ends up in tears, but in the process it manages to make fortunes for most of the people involved.