The Social Network (2010) Director: David Fincher
The Social Network tells an admittedly biased story about the founding of “TheFacebook,” everyone’s least favorite social networking website. It details the rise of the robotic and antisocial Mark Zuckerberg as he founds (or perhaps steals) the idea for a college networking site at Harvard University. It grows and expands to other ivy league schools, eventually landing as a start-up in Silicon Valley, where Zuckerberg becomes the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. The whole film is told through a series of inter-spliced scenes showcasing lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg by various people associated with the founding of the company. The film explores themes of ambition, friendship, betrayal, and genius. Digital relationship-building takes precedence over real friendships in the creation of the world’s largest online dystopian social media platform.
Jesse Eisenberg brilliantly plays Mark Zuckerberg, and other notable names like Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, and Rashida Jones also appear in the film. Timberlake plays Sean Parker, the smooth-talking, playboy and Silicon Valley investor who once founded Napster until it went bankrupt due to lawsuits. He was chased out of the next company he founded, before he became involved in venture capital investing where he opened significant opportunities for the fledgling Facebook. Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross created the score for the film -which opens with the White Stripes’s Ball and a Biscuit and closes with The Beatles’s Baby You’re A Rich Man. The film also features a brilliantly eerie cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay, a writer of other great screenplays like A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, Moneyball, and others. For writing The Social Network, he received an Academy Award.
The Social Network is a brilliant character study of success in America and it preys on changing public attitudes toward Facebook along with much of Silicon Valley for that matter. Once celebrated as the harbinger of freedom and self-expression, within a decade Facebook has suddenly become synonymous with Orwellian dystopianism -Mark Zuckerberg being a significant target of this public ire. The film has continued to age well, as Facebook has only drawn ever greater scrutiny amidst a bottomless well of accusations of corruption and perhaps even treason. The film beautifully portrays both the early excitement as well as the descent into cynical pessimism for the modern social network.