The film about the inception of the fastest growing social network ever has some of the snappiest dialogue in an opening scene since Inglourious Basterds thanks to the extreme apt screenwriting pen of Aaron Sorkin. The Social Network is a trim, slim beast but one not without hyperbole concerning campus live, social clubs, and organization in and around Harvard University. Over dramatization is common when real life is portrayed on screen but even so, the story gives the viewer only given what they need to propel the narrative forward. The film accelerates as fast as the growth of Facebook in some ways. Everything about the film, every character is drawn into the accelerating whirlpool of Facebook. Whirlpools are destructive forces that bring havoc and death to those not paying attention to their formation and their power and the one present in The Social Network is no different.
Start-up parables are also brought up in the film, showing their founders’ lack of foresight and proper planning. Clever scripting, red herrings, and warnings are all true for their being mentioned but they also bolster this film’s start-up story with other start-up stories.
Some of the best dialog scenes in The Social Network come early in the film while Facebook is brought to life in the background, the drama escalating and escalating and escalating until its crescendo when Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) screams: “Mark! Mark!”
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is drawn as an unconfident narcissist from the beginning, but one not without feelings. As his and Saverin’s company grows, so does Zuckerberg’s arrogance. At first Zuckerberg saw others – upper classmen and notable personalities – as people to envy, aspire to, and emulate if the means presented themselves. By the end of the film, most are beneath him, earning his scorn and unconcealed contempt. He’s accomplished something that most of them never will. Eisenberg’s performance as Mark Zuckerberg is unlike most of his other performances to date. He goes through a subdued range of emotion as his verbose computer science spewing talking style throws jargon against the walls, though when finally confronted by ultimate betrayal, he is silent.
It’s Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) that takes over during this pivotal moment, Timberlake probably giving his best onscreen performance to date in the film. He’s a uber-confident, sociable cyber-mogul who practically dominates every scene he is in. He believes in himself, sells himself, and others are drawn to him, people like Zuckerberg. He is cocky, pliant, a smidgen below arrogant to those he finds agreeable. He wants everyone to like him, even those that dislike him. What real influence he played in Mark’s decisions is debatable but his Napster aura and business connections certainly played a part.
Eduardo Saverin is like Harvey Dent in Nolan’s The Dark Knight: You feel sorry for him for everything he’s lost, being turned on by the people he worked with, soon seeking his own retribution. Even Zuckerberg’s nonchalant bravado falls with downcast eyes as their destroyed trust and lost friendship are relived.
Zuckerberg is almost as much vilified as he is a pawn to get rid of his former partner in Facebook. It is never made clear who suggested what to whom but it all boils down to one thing: Zuckerberg had to know about the contents of Saverin’s contract before he signed it yet said noting, gave him no word of warning.
David Fincher’s The Social Network is engaging on multiple fronts: primarily in dialog but also in the actors/actresses performances, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss (Josh Pence) providing the patrician, comic relief. The ending to the film is one of an unrequited relationship while alone in a room with nothing but lingering thoughts and regrets hanging in the air like yelping lemur monkeys. This scene can easily be a requiem for all of the irreparably damaged relationships in the film on the road to aggrandizement and glory.