Saturday, November 27, 2010

SOCIAL NETWORK - Riveting Youth Drama

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Brenda Song, Joseph Mazzello, Rooney Mara, Max Minghella, Trevor Wright and Dakota Johnson
Director: David Fincher
Script: Aaron Sorkin
Time: 120 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)

BEST PALS TURNED RIVALS: Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg

PREAMBLE: This social drama (or melodrama, if you will) grabs viewers right from the start because it deals with themes that are not only familiar to them but also involves real people, big money and intellectual debate. It is teeming with the very ingredients that make an engaging film: friendship, love, trust and betrayal.

Inspired by Ben Mezrich's book, The Accidental Billionaires, the movie provides insights into the history of Facebook - a global phenomenon that has gripped the lives of many people worldwide.

THE SKINNY: Basically, Social Network is the story of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), a Harvard geek who is being dumped by his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara, pictured, left with Eisenberg) at a pub one night. It is easy to understand why she ditches him. Mark returns to his dorm, gets drunk and posts a nasty blog about Erica. With the help of his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), he launches a website called 'Facemash' that rates the 'hotness' of Harvard women. The site becomes a hit, and Mark and Eduardo become instant celebrities, and even attracting a couple of groupies.

Mark is sought by twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Josh Pence and Armie Hammer) to design a dating website. However, instead of creating the dating website, Mark gets inspiration from the twin's site called "The Harvard Connection", and 'invents' Facebook, a project that not only becomes popular at Harvard but at other universities as well. Enter Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the creator of the music website Napster, who sees the potential of Facebook and has the resources to 'expand' it.

Thus the crunch of the films is: did Mark steal the idea for Facebook from his friends?

HITS AND MISSES: Besides the ingredients mentioned above that help to spice up the movie, we are captivated by the personalities in this social melodrama, particularly that of Mark Zuckerberg. Mark is a vindictive "asshole" who has no people skills to speak of. Yet he is immensely interesting as a techno-entrepreneur and an idealist who seems to be motivated by forces greater than greed. Sensitively portrayed by Eisenberg, we may not like him but we cannot help being fascinated by his personality.

Garfield (the next Spider-Man) makes a charming Eduardo and provides a fitting contrast to Mark's character. Mark may be the brains behind Facebook but Eduardo is its conscience - and cheque-writer. Director Fincher breaks the monotony of the legal suit sequences and computer jargon with a sex escapade (with Brenda Song as Eduardo's girlfriend Christy) before the arrival of the flamboyant Timberlake who manages to steal almost all the scenes.

The film is filled with impeccable dialogue and a masterfully written script by Aaron Sorkin. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets an Oscar nod for Best Adapted Screenplay. Indeed, the film should get a nomination for Best Picture Oscar too.

THE LOWDOWN: It is said that "the meek shall inherit the Earth" but it looks like the geek profits from it.


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