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“History” of Facebook hits the screen

October 8, 2010

 “The Social Network” begins in a crowded bar with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, talking a mile a minute. By the time his girlfriend dumps him, two things are clear: this movie was written by Aaron Sorkin and Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant.

Sorkin, the writer behind “A Few Good Men” and “The West Wing” among other projects, has made a name for himself in part for his ability to write snappy, tight and idiosyncratic dialogue.

“The Social Network” is no exception. Zuckerberg’s lines drip with awkwardness while still revealing his genius. Sorkin’s talent with language makes itself most apparent in the repartee between various characters, particularly the brothers Winklevoss, whose smooth Ivy League hauteur serves as a sort of antithesis to Zuckerberg’s nerd-from-the-streets rebelliousness.

Eisenberg’s performance as Zuckerberg is impeccable. He is probably best known for his role as Columbus in “Zombieland.” With “The Social Network,” Eisenberg shows his ability to take on more serious roles. He is able to explore a remarkable emotional range while playing a character who works hard to hide his emotions.

The other stand-out actor in “The Social Network” is the little-known Andrew Garfield. Garfield plays Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s only friend and co-founder of Facebook. He gives a compelling performance as the affable counterbalance to abrasive Zuckerberg.

The interplay between these two talented actors turns out to be the true crux of the film. On the surface, “The Social Network” is about Facebook’s early days, but at its heart it is the tale of two friends who are torn apart by a creation that became much bigger than either of them could have dreamt of.

The centrality of Zuckerberg and Saverin’s relationship is not without its drawbacks. The film features a large cast, yet few of the characters get much screen time and even fewer feel like full-fledged people.

The side story of the brothers Winklevoss, who sue Zuckerberg for intellectual property theft, is largely relegated to comic relief. Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, is played by Justin Timberlake. His character comes across as rather flat despite his importance to the latter part of the plot. Beyond him, the cast is just a swirl of faces.

While watching “The Social Network,” though, it’s easy not to be too bothered by details like this. The scenes jump through time, switching between flashbacks and two parallel lawsuits at an occasionally head-spinning rate.

This jarring style gives “The Social Network” a feel oddly reminiscent of director David Fincher’s earlier work on “Fight Club.” It’s an overly complicated approach for a movie about a website, but it does succeed in livening up what is basically 120 minutes of meetings.

The movie does play fast and loose with its facts, but that’s hardly surprising. It never claimed to be a documentary.

In the end, see “The Social Network” for its well put together story. Stay for the amazing performances by Eisenberg and Garfield.

Copy/Layout Editor

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