Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

Once in a great while, a film will come along and define a generation. “Rebel Without a Cause” perfectly captured the teenage angst of the post-World War II era. “Wall Street” captured and defined the excesses of the 1980s. “The Social Network” captures this generation, the reclusive, yet somehow social, generation that finds sanctuary behind a keyboard. Based on Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires,” “The Social Network” chronicles the early days of Facebook, beginning with its supposed inception in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room and continues through the present and its current status as a social juggernaut with more than 500 million users.

Director David Fincher used a script penned by acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, whose previous works include “A Few Good Men” and the Emmy-winning television show “The West Wing.” Sorkin framed the film around two separate legal depositions in which Zuckerberg faces lawsuits over the creation and ownership of Facebook.

Aaron Sorkin claims to have based the majority of his script on testimony given in the two separate depositions and contends that the story presented is merely dramatized, not fictionalized.

The real-life Mark Zuckerberg has openly disputed this claim, saying that the story presented in “The Social Network” is almost entirely fictionalized outside of the fact that he created Facebook and that others have sued him over the ownership of the creation.

The film starts with Zuckerberg’s girlfriend Erica dumping him because he was, to put it mildly, an arrogant jerk. After the breakup, Zuckerberg got drunk and hacked into Harvard’s servers; He stole pictures of the majority of the school’s female population, and wrote a program, called Facemash, which compared the pictures side by side and allowed users to vote on which girl was “hotter.”

The program proved so popular among the male student population that it crashed the school’s servers. Zuckerberg instantly became notorious and hated on the Harvard campus.

To hear Zuckerberg’s side of the story, Facebook grew in his mind from popularity of Facemash. Others disagreed, most notably twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their business partner Divya Narendra. The trio claimed that Facebook came from an idea called the Harvard Connection, which the group explained to Zuckerberg in the hopes that he would write the necessary computer code to make the site possible. The rest of the film follows the meteoric rise of Facebook and the ensuing legal and personal troubles that Zuckerberg faced.

Remarkably, the film’s cast consists of relative unknowns who gave incredible performances that will likely result in at least one Oscar nomination for the film. Jesse Eisenberg, of “Zombieland” fame, stars and nails every nuance in his performance, making Zuckerberg seem like an incredibly unlikable person, yet somehow still vulnerable. Andrew Garfield, tabbed to play Spider-Man in the franchise’s next film, excels as Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s one-time best friend and, later on, the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits. Justin Timberlake continues to shed the boy band image by playing the neurotic inventor of Napster and part-owner of Facebook Sean Parker.

David Fincher began his career directing music videos. He quickly moved on to feature films and has acquired a portfolio that includes modern classics such as “Fight Club,” “Seven,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and the criminally underrated “Zodiac.” Amazingly, “The Social Network” may have surpassed them all.

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