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On The Box: The Social Network

by Jarrad Smith

If you’ve never heard of Facebook then you’ve been living under an amazingly shielded rock. However, even those few that don’t check up on their digital persona several times a day will still find themselves swept up in the controversial film – The Social Network.

As it turns out, there is very little in the way of actual social networking featured in the film. It instead focuses on the relationships and turmoil surrounding the creation, and eventual skyrocketing fame. Therein lies its appeal.

With David Fincher at the helm, I immediately knew this movie would be nothing but a great piece of story telling. At the heart of the movie, it’s a tale of betrayal, resentment and ultimately, envy. This is about the uprising of today’s most technologically revolutionary person.

As portrayed by Jesse Einberg (Zombieland and Adventureland), Mark Zuckerberg is your average socially withdrawn geek. When his girlfriend breaks up with him, he heads back to his university dorm and creates a website similar to today’s hotornot.com –  Facemash, which would soon evolve into the Facebook we know and love.

After this social networking site goes live, it creates two problems. Firstly, it lands Zuckerberg in hot water after it crashes the Harvard servers. It later earns him two multi-million dollar lawsuits. One with his former comrade, Eduardo Saverin, who provides Facebook with its initial cash influx but later gets squeezed out by Napter’s Sean Parker (brilliantly casted Justin Timberlake). The other comes from the Winklevoss twins, (played by Armie Hammer), two rich want-it-all guys with a dying sense of entitlement.

Brilliantly translated to the screen by director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network’s strengths are in its imaginative cinematography and its character development.

Interestingly, the character development also makes it difficult to work out who your allegiances lie with in the film. The protagonist, Zuckerberg, is extraordinarily bright and you can kind of grow to like his geeky exterior, but his inability to focus his attention on anyone in particular – “you have part of my attention, you have the minimum amount” – leaves him looking considerably arrogant.

On the other hand we the clear antagonists of the film, the Winklevoss twins, who are painted as overbearing, pompous snobs seeking fortunes that were never theirs. Even though they do seem to have some kind of claim to the Facebook empire, it’s impossible to feel any kind of compassion for them. Probably because I would assume anyone who was angry about an idea being stolen would go right ahead and build it anyway – better – instead of spending months (years!) whining about it.

What makes this film quite unique and likeable (credit really goes to the cinematography here) is the way it somehow makes a bunch of geeks sitting around writing code seem like the coolest thing ever. Even Zuckerberg’s breakup in the beginning is followed closely by drinking and dorm room shenanigans, while the wild ride through the expansion of Facebook is fueled by parties, girls and more drinking. Some inspired camera angles and motion effects help set the mood in this respect.

My hat really goes off to the cast, and moreso Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher, for bringing to the screen one of the most controversial films of the decade and one of the best films I’ve seen this year.

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