As a nocturnal Facebook addict, I reluctantly crawled out of my vampire casket and tottered off to a matinee show of ‘The Social Network’, sunglasses firmly perched on nose, crucifix and garlic repellent duly stashed away in my pocket.
The film captures the nerdy zeitgeist of our time rather well. It has no straightforward heroes or villains, nor does it have a clear cut storyline. But then a bio-pic of this kind simply reflects contemporary real life scenarios, that often lack a clear moral focus, and a telos, a purposive thrust toward a nicely packaged ‘The End’.
I liked the film’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, from his seedling years at Harvard, to the triumph of becoming the world’s youngest billionaire, with 500 million + subscribers to Facebook, the numbers growing steadily.
I think Jesse Eisenberg’s version of Mark is masterful—he even looks (well, sorta kinda) like the founder of Facebook. He does display a varied spectrum of Zuckerbergian faces--Mark’s passion ‘to connect, to connect, to connect’, in E.M. Forster’s words, his algorithmic addiction and his passion for creating an ever-expanding social networking website. Facebook began on a beery night, conceived as an expanded elite college yearbook, originating at Harvard, then marketed to other Ivy Leagues. It spread to include the whole planet.
The film also exposes his carefree lack of interest in money per se, his treacherous dumping of old friends when they no longer fit in with his plans, and his endless homo -social/emotional dependency on close male associates. The text of the film exposes his gawky awkwardness with women. Indeed, the idea of FB was hatched on a stormy night, after his girlfriend breaks up with him and he returns to his Harvard dorm room in a misogynist mood, seeking revenge against her and against all the women students at Harvard, comparing them to ‘farm animals’.
Justin Timberlake does a good job as the flashy, flirtatious Sean Parker, founder of Napster, who swiftly displaces Eduardo Savarin, co-founder of FB, from Mark’s affections and from the management of FB. Andrew Garfield has an interesting intensity as Eduardo, possibly the only ‘real’ character in the film and one who cares about Mark deeply.