When Jesse Eisenberg first came onto the Hollywood scene, I immediately pegged him as a poor man’s Michael Cera. Of course now, I have to reevaluate exactly who’s got the real star power these days. The list of credits and accolades to Eisenberg’s name grows in number and notoriety, while Cera continues to pigeonhole himself in the same role in movies of dubious worth and caliber (cough)Year One(cough). Eisenberg perfectly plays the protoganist that you almost love to hate because as his character says, he accomplishes things that no one else, creatively or intellectually, is capable of. But he’s still kind of an asshole.
The movie, of course, centers around the creators of the omnipresent “Facebook” social networking website, mostly from the point of view of notorious Mark Zuckerberg in the middle of multiple multi-million dollar lawsuits. The narrative is driven by a series of flashbacks that begin with Zuckerberg showcasing his obvious wit (and even more obvious mordancy) to his “girlfriend” at a local Harvard bar and hangout. I loved Eisenberg’s portrayal of a man so brilliantly gifted that he seems to quantum leap through thoughts and conversations without effort, yet so awkward and callous that he doesn’t seem to care about who he’s talking to. From there it’s an easy leap to see him take his technological savvy and apply it with the anger, spite, and drive of an outcast scorned. Hacking past Harvard server security he creates a website that allows his fellow students to compare the hotness of female peers on facemash.com. As viewers, we’re treated to Eisenberg’s voiceover of exactly how easy all of this was to accomplish. In one night. While simultaneously blogging. And drunk.
The instant popularity of his interactive website inspires Zuckerman to create something even more popular, taking the concept of social networking online. We’re treated to the highs and lows of his life and those around around him as facebook grows into the worldwide behemoth it is today. Supporting Eisenberg is an all-star cast that runs the gamut from the relatively unknown (Armie Hammer) to the pop-culture icon (Justin Timberlake). I heard plenty of buzz about Timberlake’s performance as Sean Parker before going into the movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by the displays of dramatic prowess from most of the actors and actresses. I loved Armie Hammer who played twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, engaging in an escalating series of pranks and shennanigans to try and reunite their estranged parents… wait, sorry. Wrong movie. I mean they claim to have come up with the idea of facebook first, and are part of a lawsuit Zuckerman is engaged in when the movie begins.
And almost equally compelling as Eisenberg was Andrew Garfield as the initial financier and business end of the enterprise, Eduardo Saverin. Truly the interplay between Saverin and Zuckerman, first as friends, then as partners, and ultimately as rivals drives the bulk of the emotional impact throughout the movie. It’s an impressive display as no one can really be considered the antogonist of the film, except maybe the conflicting motivations that the characters struggle with as their business takes on a life of its own. Lines are drawn, loyalties divided, and as Saverin says at one point to Zuckerman, “I was your only friend,” emphasis on the “was.”
As a whole, I really enjoyed “The Social Network” on many different levels. It’s fun to see the inception and maturation of a website that has literally changed the way people across the planet socialize, and how it evolved from the work and minds of those who had plenty of social problems themselves. You feel simultaneously sorry for and jealous of these characters. Sure, the writers take plenty of liberties blurring fact with fiction, but this isn’t a documentary; it’s a fantastical journey. So for this movie, I’m clicking the “like” button.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!