The Social Network is renowned for being, quite deservedly, one of the highest rated films on RottenTomatoes, the only problem being that I can’t ascertain why this is. The film documents Mark Zuckerberg’s journey to stardom, from launching Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard, to enjoying the title of youngest ever billionaire. Unlike many, I have tried to keep on top of Facebook’s clashes with litigation over the years, what with people claiming IP rights over the site, and so on. Luckily, most people aren’t like me, and don’t obsess over the things such as this. It would seem, then, that the film’s appeal isn’t in its story. That isn’t to say it isn’t a well-strung narrative. It truly is. Zuckerberg’s story is relayed to us through a series of committee meetings, and legal depositions, where slowly, we see Zuckerberg’s story unravel, one piece at a time. It’s a story that is told very well, and will have you engrossed. What is the film’s appeal, then? It’s acted well, the music fits just right, and for some, it may even move you.
I think the magic of this film is that we can all relate to it. The premise is far less boring than it sounds, and what is revealed to the audience is a tale of friendship, betrayal, honour, and above all, unrequited love. Like most films in this vein, it both starts, and ends with a girl. The film opens with Zuckerberg’s then girlfriend, Erica Albright (played by Rooney Mara) breaking up with Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). What then unfolds is a fabulous story led by Zuckerberg’s insecurities, and his quest for not only recognition with women, but recognition from his Ivy League peers, and their fraternity network. Along the way, you’ll see how Zuckerberg’s relationship with his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, evolves. You’ll see Zuckerberg clash with well-backed socialites Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, owners of social network ConnectU, who claim Zuckerberg ‘stole their idea’ for Facebook from a joint project they all worked on. You’ll also see how entrepreneur Sean Parker, creator of Napster, had a profound effect on Facebook’s evolution. The story definitely has some weight to it, to its credit, with every turn causing the audience to question what exactly is going on in Zuckerberg’s head.
Zuckerberg is portrayed as a ‘typical’ geek; lacking in social skills, but academically brilliant. However, there’s always an idea lying on the table that Zuckerberg isn’t comfortable in being how he is. It’s almost like he is driven in his endeavours to become something better, whether a ‘jock’ on the rowing team, a hit with the ladies, or simply someone who is popular, and well liked. With so many competing themes at play, it’s sometimes hard to decipher why not only Zuckerberg, but the supporting characters act as they do. For instance, Cameron Winklevoss’ initial refusal to sue Zuckerberg, who advocates to deal with his disagreement with Zuckerberg like a ‘Harvard man’, is one notable example. Another is a move made by Saverin towards the end of the film, which could likely have jeopardised their entire operation. While there is a lot of confusion as to the motivations of the film’s characters, that’s part of its beauty, and humanises the characters it portrays to a great degree. These characters feel, more or less, just like you or I. Of course, it’s not every day that we sue our best friends for 600 million dollars, but the feeling is there that this is real life, only escalated to gargantuan proportions. That, I think is what makes this film really special.
How would I rate it, then? I would definitely see the film again, given the chance. I’m also most certainly purchasing it when it’s released. The Social Network is a wonderful film, which is certainly most worthy of your attention.