Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Social Network (Movie Review)

All companies need creation myths, and if one doesn't exist, it's probably necessary to invent one.

It's unclear how much of The Social Network is fact and how much is exaggerated and fictionalized, but it doesn't really matter as David Fincher's film succeeds as a compelling story of a smart but irreverent college student who doesn't quite fit in at Harvard but pounces and executes the right idea at the right time. The results speak for themselves as Facebook has become the number one social network site in the world.

I enjoyed the film and especially appreciated the balanced treatment of Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). He comes across neither as a sympathetic figure nor as a villain, but somewhere in between, and mostly as a lonely and sometimes angry kid who desperately wants to fit in. This flailing coupled with his savvy at building innovative web applications (first MP3 software, than the infamous Facemash, and, finally, Facebook), leads to an unexpected mixture of success and obnoxiousness.

Deep down you sense Zuckerberg doesn't quite know what to do with his unprecedented success. To paraphrase one of the characters, speaking to Mark at the end of the film, "You're not an asshole, you're just trying really hard to be one." Perhaps that's why the final image in the film is of Zuckerberg, now Facebook CEO, sitting alone in a conference room and browsing his own social network site, awaiting a friend confirmation.

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