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20th October
written by Mad Cow

Rated: PG-13 for drug and alcohol use and language

Mad Cow’s Rating:

Facebook seems to have sprung from a misogynist view of women as objects, the revenge of the nerds on all the women of the world who aren’t that into them. Thus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s card which read(s?) “I’m CEO, Bitch.” Charming. The Social Network could be womankind’s revenge.

When someone commented to Picasso that Gertrude Stein didn’t look like his portrait of her, he replied, “She will.” Art can overtake life. I will always view Mark Zuckerberg as he is portrayed in The Social Network. At the age of 26, he is the youngest billionaire in the world. This movie tells us how he got there or perhaps gives us a reasonable facsimile.

Based on the book, The Accidental Billionaire by Ben Mezrich, the plot cleverly and succinctly revolves around the depositions of lawsuits brought against Zuckerberg by original enemies and former frields. Using this real structure, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing – need I say more?) and director David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Alien) present an inspired, witty, absorbing and totally entertaining version of the story, whatever one makes it out to be.

Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) is a socially inept computer nerd who aspires to popularity to no avail. He is moved to take internet revenge on his former girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) with selected sexist remarks. His roommate Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) helps him code and launch a website called “Facemash” (who’s hot and who’s not) that crashes the Harvard system. Facing a disciplinary panel of university officials, Zuckerberg arrogantly suggests that they ought to congratulate him. This is a microcosm of his personality.

The major thread is a lawsuit brought by twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Armie Hammer and body-double Josh Pence), who had shared their idea for a social network for Harvard and asked Mark to write the code. Did he steal intellectual property? The over-the-top WASPY Winklevosses reminded me of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) in Harry Potter. They exude privilege and entitlement.  So, even while Zuckerberg is not exactly our hero, Tyler and Cameron are far from the salt of the earth. The question is: when we’re talking millions of dollars, who is David and who is Goliath? The contrast is both amusing and thought-provoking.

As Mark expands his techie universe, including setting up a decidedly sophomoric competition for the privilege of becoming a Facebook intern, he is pursued by Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), followed by a host of investors. Some people are in, others out, feelings are hurt, and Facebook users multiply astronomically.

Wild college parties, which Mark generally eschews, pepper the film. Without them, the movie would be devoid of women, who are there to strip, decorate and seduce. They are good for one thing, and thinking isn’t it. The most screen time is given to Eduardo’s girlfriend Christy Lee (Brenda Song). Song does a good job, even though her part is mostly about sex and jealousy and some looniness.

Eisenberg is amazing in his ability to convey ambiguity in his interactions, leading us to wonder about whether Zuckerberg was feeling anything and if so, what. Timberlake does a great job of projecting celebrity hyperbole combined with actual savvy. As Eduardo, Garfield gives us ground in his comparative normalcy. Not to mention the fact that Todd and Cameron are played by one guy, Armie Hammer. One will want to see the movie again just to try to figure out how Fincher did it and to admire Hammer’s versatility. Many if not all of these guys will be on the stage on Oscar night.

Hilarious scenes and one-liners, connections everywhere and double entendres keep us entertained. Questions from character to character make us think about the answers. The contrast between the older attorneys at the depositions and the arrogant young men is drawn just right. The bit in which the Winklevosses visit Larry Summers, then president of Harvard, is worth the price of the movie. The movie itself is actually worth the price of the movie, a rarity in today’s world of sloppy plots, feeble dialogue and lazy acting.

Some say it’s ironic that Zuckerberg, a guy with few social skills, invented a social network. I say it’s perfect. Just ask a sampling of people with Facebook pages whether they are actually friends with their Facebook friends. Facebook offers an incredible kind of popularity without the bother of real relationships. Ever notice that you can only “like” stuff and not “not like” stuff?

To express just how great this movie is, I’d have to give away too many good lines, most of which are positively brilliant. Now I want Nora Ephron to write the same story from the point of view of the women.

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