Movie Review: The Social Network

By Matthew Huntley

October 12, 2010

A study in facial expressions.

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It goes without saying The Facebook spreads exponentially, not unlike a virus, and Mark and Eduardo begin selling it to other college campuses. At Stanford, it catches the attention of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), infamous to some as the founder of Napster. He’s not a student at Stanford; he’s just sleeping with one of the female students. A schmoozer and glorified car salesman, Parker becomes Mark’s business consultant and woos him with the idea of endless possibilities for the site. But the level-headed Eduardo can see through Parker’s B.S., as can we, and we witness a tragic shift in loyalty as Mark falls under the spell of greater power and starts to abandon more meaningful things like friendship.

But the question is whether Mark ever really cared about such things in the first place. One of the most intriguing aspects of the film is it never claims to know exactly how Mark Zuckerberg really feels or what he’s thinking. On the surface, he’s enigmatic and robotic and, on one level, we despise him for his flippant attitude toward other human beings; on another, we feel sorry for the kid because we realize he’s incapable of making any type of human connection, which makes him prone to loneliness and cynicism.

Jesse Eisenberg, an actor who has mostly played farcical, goofy characters, is eerily convincing as a jaded student whose attention span only goes as far as his computer screen. He convinces us Mark is a genius and makes him someone who’s easy to hate, yet just as easy to admire. The character is written and performed as someone whom we feel we’ll never truly know, which is why he’s so fascinating.


I have no idea how accurate The Social Network is and I really don’t care. I don’t go to dramatic features for the facts, but rather to feel and be affected by the drama and characters. That’s what this film does. Director David Fincher gives it a riveting, ominous tone throughout and although we don’t walk away feeling like we truly know who the inventor of Facebook is, the answer becomes less important to us as the film goes on. Instead, we reflect on the greater idea that technology has become intertwined with human nature and how we sometimes embrace things like Facebook for validation - to tell other people about ourselves and give us more purpose.

The other message I took from it is no matter how popular we become in the digital world, it can never replace real human contact. That’s probably why Mark Zuckerberg excelled at developing the site - he was so impassioned by his inability to connect to other people within a physical social network that he worked to create one where he made the rules. His energy and enthusiasm allowed him to make Facebook what it is today. There are a lot of people who are angry with him; but there are millions more who are grateful.

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