By James Verniere
September 29, 2010
The Social Network: A-
A highbrow “Animal House” for the Facebook generation, David Fincher’s “The Social Network” draws an epochal line in the sand, separating the old millennium from the new.
A fascinating story about the founding of Facebook and a classic fable about ambition, betrayal, greed, fame, envy, status and sex, the film is an absolute must-see for anyone, on Facebook or not.
Is there such a thing as an original idea? Mark Zuckerberg (a career-making turn by Jesse Eisenberg, “Zombieland”) doesn’t think so, especially after his variant of a social network for Harvard students goes viral.
Young Harvard gods the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron (both played by Armie Hammer)take Zuckerberg to court, as does his ex-best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield, the new Spider-Man).
“The Social Network” begins in 2003 with a scene set in Somerville’s Thirsty Scholar Pub. Zuckerberg insults Boston University, frets about getting into one of Harvard’s exclusive clubs and gets dumped by his BU student girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara, the new Lisbeth Salander).
We see brainstorming sessions, bacchanalian drug and booze-fueled Harvard parties and lots of computer screens. Eventually the film becomes a “Rashomon”-like, operatic slugfest in which truth is a will o’ the wisp.
The characters are laser-cut and marvelously voiced, especially Justin Timberlake’s Machiavellian Napster whiz Sean Parker. But standing above it all is Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg: a brilliant, driven, deeply flawed, vindictive boy-man who in one scene appears for a meeting in kid’s pajamas.
“Baby, you’re a rich man,” sing the final credits.
“Behind every great fortune . . . is a crime,” wrote Balzac, more or less. Did Zuckerberg steal his idea, now estimated to be worth $25 billion? I don’t know.
But the man who founded Facebook has no friends.