- 01 Nov 10
The story of the beginnings of social networking bonanza Facebook
Even a visual stylist like David Fincher can’t find anything to do with the internet and algorithms. And so The Social Network, a faintly scandalous account of the foundation of Facebook, is the director’s murkiest, least distinguished looking picture to date. No matter. Fincher does, at least, make decent entertainment out of such inherently unprepossessing subjects as computer use and legal hearings.
It hardly needs to be said that none of the principals emerges unscathed. Working from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay throws up an unsympathetic ensemble only to suggest that they are, behind what the studio could get past the lawyers, much, much worse.
In this spirit The Social Network largely belongs to Jesse Eisenberg who, playing Facebook entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg, is consistently, mesmerisingly odious. As the film opens, Zuckerberg is a young Harvard hotshot calling on his friends to help set up such mean-spirited enterprises as Hot or Not, a site where you rank the girls on campus. By the end, having screwed over roommate Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), potential WASP benefactors the Winklevoss brothers (Armie Hammer) and most everyone else, there are no friends left to call on.
In a world defined by Ivy League privilege and rampant misogyny, it’s hard to know who to cheer for. We know, from early on, that the protagonist is no hero but a petty conniver who uses his nerdish smarts as a cover for underhanded schemes. It is a tribute, therefore, to the film’s fervour for smiling, damned villains that Zuckerberg still comes out better than Justin Timberlake’s outrageously sleazy Sean Parker or Armie Hammer’s stiff-lipped posh jocks.
A dreadful score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose can’t spoil the malevolent fun.