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Friday, September 24, 2010

THE SOCIAL NETWORK

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: David Fincher
Writer: Aaron Sorkin (screenplay) and Ben Mezrich (book0
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Rooney Mara, Bryan Barter, Dustin Fitzsimons, Arnie Hammer, Josh Pence, Joseph Mazzello, Patrick Mapel, Max Minghella, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake et al.
Producers: Dana Bruneetti, Cean Chaffin, Michael De Luca and Scott Rudin
Executive Producer: Kevin Spacey
Original Music: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: Language
Genre: Drama

The 48th New York Film Festival opens with the much hyped film about the Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard "geek" who formed and rapidly grew the social network, Facebook.

From the start of the film you're aware that Zuckerberg has few or no social skills (which explains his lack of friends), dresses abominably even for a college student, and is only concerned with his programming and blogging.

Mark is smart, probably the smartest guy in the room, regardless of what room he's in. The big drawback is he knows it and that propels him to be consistently rude and obnoxious.

In conversations with his girlfriend he's unable to concentrate and carry on one train of thought, leaping from one thing to another and wearing her down. When she reaches the breaking point and tells him she's breaking up with him he reacts badly.

He takes his anger at his girlfriend and women at Harvard out by blogging distasteful things in public and programming a Facemash site where Harvard men can choose who's hot and who's not.

Whether Zuckerberg knew it or not, Facemash was the predecessor of Facebook. However, it also got him suspended from Harvard.

But things do not run smoothly. Regardless of his brilliance, it turns out that the Facebook concept wasn't totally his alone. The Winklevoss twins from the Harvard rowing team actually had the concept and had already had a couple of programmers working on it by the time they hired Zuckerberg to program for them.

Through a series of flashbacks of lawsuits against Zuckerberg the audience sees that as brilliant as Zuckerberg is, he alienated everyone he dealt with from his only friend through his own attorney.

Seemingly unable to say words as simple as "Thank You", Zuckerberg builds his database and becomes even more alienated from society, not only cutting himself off from people but also angering them through his actions, his ambition, his lack of grace and his seemingly endless ego.

In the film, Zuckerberg's best friend, Eduardo Saverin, who financed the original project and is treated badly after doing so, captures the viewers sympathy in a way that eludes us as far as Zuckerberg himself.

The thing that stands out about Mark Zuckerberg is his cleverness at accepting help from people and then holding them in total contempt. He's simply not a sympathetic character.

It is ironic that the most successful online "community", a social networking web site that has expanded beyond belief and made Zuckerberg incredibly rich, was created by a man who lacks even basic social skills and doesn't interface well with anyone.

When Sean Parker enters the picture, the flamboyant creator of Napster, Eduardo is pushed aside and Mark starts accepting help and introductions from Sean. Parker is so flamboyant and such a "bad boy" that Mark is immediately dazzled by him.

This was shot in digital and makes Harvard seem normal rather than the elitist institution that it is always represented as. But there's no denying that the school is filled with the wealthy, the powerful and the ambitious.

The Winklevoss twins moved on row in the Olympics and also proved enough of their case to receive a huge settlement.

Zuckerberg, who was never invited into the elitist society, was angry, contemptuous and looking to get even and prove he was just as good as they were, or better, so he created a world of his own, based on data.

In our modern world where information rules, the audience can immediately identify with the story and characters as being in the here and now of modern society.

It's an interesting film and reflects our world but doesn't depict any character that you would want to emulate. Except for the money and the fame most of the characters seem to have rather empty lives.