I kept checking my phone, like important notifications were piling up and I was missing them. Then the full movie came back into focus and I stopped watching and just stared at it; the cinematography is very nice. I kept forgetting how good the acting was, too; that the Winklevoss twins are Armie Hammer (who I’m told has been in other films) twice, or that Jesse Eisenberg (of Zombieland, The Squid and the Whale) was at all acting. A right prick, and it really is a sort of character assassination for Mark Zuckerberg. But that’s the way it’s written.
No college student, or lawyer or Dean of students, or anyone else who watch The Social Network is nearly as well-spoken as writer Aaron Sorkin (of The West Wing); people aren’t that snappy (the dialogue is a little too good I think). Or that calculatingly, poetically motivated. It’s very well written though, distorted or not. We know it didn’t really happen this way, we know no one writes equations on windows or talks that fast; it’s just recall and flashback, it’s drama: smart, awkward college kid makes a free website, loses his best friend and two lawsuits, and gains a couple billion dollars. And it’s all about a girl.
And it’s time someone made something great about the internet. I’ve always been scornful of bringing what happens online into the real world, of asking about comments or asking if you got that link, it’s embarrassing. It’s a shameful, private sort of communication that we (I) rely too much on for social standing. This is what The Social Network is about: the ways in which living a life online free, in one’s head, separate and rehearsed and alone, is poisonous.
Mark Zuckerberg is that kind of guy, immersed in his own world. He doesn’t slow down to hear what anyone else has to say. Like tangled instant messages, no connection to a person, just the conversation he’s in with them. His connection to Facebook is so much deeper than his active life: in creating it he built a filter for others to interact in the way he does with their world. Everything is an isolated incident; burn a bridge and you can add them back later, you can revive the friendship; talk at people, watch them and when you say something they don’t like, delete it and move on. It’s a terrible way to exist socially, and I’ve spent a lot of time doing it myself.
I won’t bore you with plot details or anything else about The Social Network, Facebook or its founding. It’s boring like that. No context to a blank text on the sheet (page, rather). I related to Mark, I’ve made many of the mistakes he has and so to me he wasn’t the villain everyone seems to think. However, Mark’s best friend Eduardo (played by Andrew Garfield) is the clear hero, the only character not well rounded enough for fault.
I don’t know whether the real Eduardo Saverin is as immediately favorable as Andrew Garfield plays him, but there is some charismatic spark in good actors – a spark Garfield carries ably. From here on for every movie online he’s in that Channing Tatum or Shia Labeouf isn’t, I’ll rejoice. He plays foil to [Justin Timberlake’s] Sean Parker, the seeming instigator of much of the conflict in the film. He sort of guides the company to it’s ambitious altitude (through partying and risky business decision ultimately right for the company—but wrong for Mark, Eduardo). Jealousy and feuding and parties, but not a fast car or detonation in sight. A quality rivalry, an engaging conflict.
This feud makes up the girth of the film’s drama over the course of Facebook’s rise. By the end of the film, Mark has no apparent friends left from this feud. An aftermath that can’t be undone or touched up and made good. Mark is often sympathetic, but ultimately it’s his own ignorance and subtle schemes that so destroy him.
In The Social Network online friends build up: each a wall, pushing real friends away, limiting the potential for genuine chemistry: the internet is putting the world at our fingertips for free, and the knowledge in it, spoiling us of ‘the little things’, of the finite definition in a real friendship and a real encounter. By friend 1,000,000 (when the site gains it’s millionth member), Mark has lost his only real link to the physical world. Eduardo’s betrayal is complete, a gradual grinding at his stake in the company turned outright assassination. This is the integral moment of the whole movie, I think; a sliver of screentime, a page in the story, told perfectly.
David Fincher is a masterful storyteller for turning a story of such seeming inconsequence into such compelling drama. All of the world’s oceans have been crossed (and their findings now documented on film and on paper). We have been forced by the inturned walls of our geography to make the small discovery great, and that I think is the crowing merit in the full film, and in the Internet age itself: to turn human indifference to an issue few knew existed – into something intriguing and intense. The Social Network is above all a good movie; go watch it.