The Social Network – A Review

Ask anyone to name the Hollywood movie of the year, chances are that you would hear the name The Social Network. The movie directed by David Fincher (of Fight Club and Curious Case of Benjamin Button fame) has taken viewers across the globe by storm and has scored heavily with the critics as well. The movie has received astounding ratings from various noted critics and is well on its way to rake in profits by the barrel.

The Social Network is the story of the founding of the popular social networking site, Facebook, and is based on Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg in the role of Mark Zuckerberg, with Andrew Garfield playing co-founder Eduardo Saverin and Justin Timberlake appearing as Napster founder Sean Parker. The movie is an exhilarating tale of the happenings at Harvard and how the idea of a social network such as Facebook was born in one of the most elite campuses in the world.

Zuckerberg is portrayed as an eccentric, erratic genius, a class of protagonists the movie viewing world has come to expect and relish over the past decade or so. He is a withdrawn man who does not care much about the people around him. To him, his work and his brilliant ideas are ends unto themselves and the people around him just means to that end.

Eisenberg portrays the character brilliantly, scurrying along the paved paths of Harvard and coding endlessly on nights while others are out having fun. However, Zuckerberg is not the quintessential don’t-care-a-damn genius as some have perceived him to be in the movie. Rather, he has a circle of friends with whom he hangs out and it comes as no surprise that they are good programmers as well, and are people who help him set up his pet project. Apart from Saverin, there is Dustin Muskowitz played by Joseph Mazello and Chris Hughes, portrayed by Patrick Mapel.

In the movie, Zuckerberg is not entirely without personal troubles either. In the opening scene of the movie, he breaks up with his girlfriend, which serves as a motivation to Zuckerberg to lay the foundations of the juggernaut we know today as Facebook. During the course of making his ideas a reality, he gets in to legal skirmishes with the university and is accused of hacking in to various servers of the university. Further, he comes in to conflict with his best friend, Saverin, over the involvement of Sean Parker in the affairs of Facebook. Saverin does not appreciate Parker, seeing him as a kind of Silicon Valley vagabond who could be up to no good. However, Zuckerberg is really fond of the founder of Napster which leads to a conflict between the friends, ending in Savrerin being booted out of the company.

In many ways, the story of Facebook is also the story of human relations, ironically the very purpose for which Mark Zuckerberg envisaged Facebook. It deals with the protagonist’s relationships with his friends and roommates, his relationship with the opposite sex, culminating in a desire to be friends with his ex-girlfriend and his attitude towards the corporate world and its intricacies. This is particularly on show when the movie often cuts back to a room where legal proceedings against Zuckerberg, initiated separately by Saverin and the Winklevoss twins are in progress. Zuckerberg is portrayed as a bored individual in that room, who does not give a damn about what the outcome of the proceedings will be. He believes that he is right in every way and more importantly, his genius is all that matters and so it should be for everyone else. One may even argue that Zuckerberg, for all his genius and intellectual bravado is deep inside, a lonely man, who could do with some company. The last scene of the movie shows Zuckerberg in front of a computer, a man with a million friends in the virtual world, is still alone and lonely in the real one. Moreover, he is still on the search for a good friend.

The movie is definitely a must watch for everybody and is easily the best movie of the year. The movie moves at a good pace, is exciting and manages to convey a real life story in an exciting manner without much of an exaggeration. The movie is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich and all that we see on screen is essentially the author’s story. So don’t believe all that you see. Rather, take it with a pinch of salt and go read Wikipedia after the show.

Basil James

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