By Quinton Saxby
David Fincher has a knack for defining generations. He defines yet another with his new movie about Facebook, and he does it with style and gravity. Only Fincher could have pulled off a movie about social networks without falling into the traps of overstatement or cliché.
His film The Social Network is based on Ben Mezrich’s controversial expose The Accidental Billionaires. The book is a “fictionalized account” of the rise of Facebook, constructed from interviews with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg’s former friend Eduardo Saverin, co-founder and financier of the dorm-room project.
David Fincher’s magnum opus has style, nuance and entertainment value. Every joke bites, every conversation has depth and wit. His film is mature in its writing, presentation and vision. Zombieland’s Jesse Eisenberg gives a jaw-dropping performance as the billionaire who interrupts high-stakes corporate meetings wearing slippers and a robe. Somehow he can embody the perfect geek archetype, finding a way to portray the aggressive awkwardness of the self-conscious and socially destructive genius. His performance emphasizes the fact that it is easier to be an asshole entrepreneur than a nice one.
Aaron Sorkin’s absorbing screenplay follows the Facebook story from its creation to its influential and exponential growth in popularity. In a parallel narrative, it outlines the legal squabbles and back-stabbing that come with the territory of Internet empires. Facebook’s unpredictable rise to its multi-billion dollar status on Wall Street also threatens to shut Saverin, Zuckerberg’s confidante, out of the fortune.
The Social Network also hints that Mark Zuckerberg has one-uped an entire generation, making billions from a fairly simple concept. The film acts not only as an observation, but as an indictment, of Zuckerberg and his unflinching vision. Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s co-founder, probably won’t be friend requesting Zuckerberg anytime soon.
The film is experimental, aggressive and engaging. It’s difficult but alluring to be in the presence of a man with a single-minded obsession, and Mark Zuckerberg is not a personality you would hope to encounter every day. Yet Jesse Eisenberg portrays him with acute attention to detail, and it is impossible not to believe every moment of his performance.
It is apt that a Facebook movie comes down to being about the changing definitions of friendship. Mark Zuckerberg, according to this account at least, has his own ideas about the concept that might be quite shocking to viewers.