By Carolyn Williams
“The Social Network” tells a version of the unexpected beginnings of Facebook. The movie is based on the 2009 nonfiction book by Ben Mezrich called “The Accidental Billionaires.” Since no members of the Facebook team were involved in the project, many of the film’s characters are portrayed in an unflattering light.
The story begins in 2003, when Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, a sophomore at Harvard, is in the middle of a date that is going quite badly. Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a prototypical, if somewhat bitter, nerd, and as he beleaguers his date with the importance of being accepted into a Harvard final club, she bluntly ends their relationship.
Angry about rejection and somewhat drunk, Zuckerberg and several of his friends create FaceMash, a website where people can compare the “hotness” of most of the female undergraduate community, while simultaneously blogging about his anger with his former girlfriend. The site gets so many hits that it crashes Harvard’s network, landing Zuckerberg on academic suspension and in trouble with most of the female student body.
His notoriety brings Zuckerberg to the attention of several upperclassmen looking to create an exclusive social networking site for Harvard students, and while he is supposedly working on this project, Zuckerberg and his business partner, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), launch their own social networking website, www.thefacebook.com, the predecessor to today’s Facebook.
Much of the movie is told in a series of flashbacks as Zuckerberg sits trial, having been sued both by the upperclassmen, who believe he stole their idea for a Harvard dating website, and Saverin, Zuckerberg’s former CFO and ex-best friend.
Moviegoers will find “The Social Network” has more depth than its depiction in trailers. The overall tone is heavy, with only a few absolute moments of comedy. The film leaves no doubt that it is a serious drama. The acting is very believable, particularly Andrew Garfield as the wounded Saverin. Justin Timberlake also does a superb job filling the role of bad influence on the impressionable young Zuckerberg in his part as Napster co-founder Sean Parker.
University students at the Campus Theatre left the movie pleased.
“I thought that a movie about the creation of Facebook wouldn’t be very interesting, but it was compelling and well-acted, with complex characters,” Rachel Pearson’14 said.
“I thought it was a well-done movie. It was really emotionally engaging and intense. I really enjoyed it,” Kate Wilsterman ’14 said.
“Emotionally engaging” is a good choice of words. For the majority of “The Social Network,” the filmmakers do a commendable job creating tension and involving their audience on the emotional level; however, when the credits roll, viewers are left with a sense of hope and optimism for the innovative website’s future.