Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Social Network

What happens when you put the director of Fight Club, the writer of The West Wing in cahoots and have them hire a talented cast to perform a script based on a compelling story? Well, something incredible happens. From the opening scene to the final moments, the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks where you sometimes don't know who to root for because it's not that simple. This is a somewhat (but not much) fictionalized account of the founding of Facebook. It's based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (who also wrote Bringing Down the House). Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. It is clear that MZ got his idea from others but no one had the patent, and there was no existent code that was stolen, so it gets down to a Harvard gentlemen's code as to whether or not it was actual theft of intellectual property. It is also a story of a fairly austistic human who struggles mightily to understand the nuances of nonverbal and emotional reactions in his interactions. Justin Timberlake is a wonderful version of the sleazy Napster co-founder, Sean Parker. Pay attention to Rooney Mara- the first girlfriend- because she will be the American version of Lizbeth Salander soon. Flashback movies are often annoying. Sometimes they border on incomprehensible. But a writer like Sorkin doesn't have those problems. And this film is virtually flawless. There are no boring moments, no confusion about the characters, and it is written so that each character has enough time for the audience to identify with them. It's a rare film, indeed, that can do these things. This will wind up being the best movie of the year.
And as an aside, Mark Zuckerberg was a phenomenal child prodigy- his parents had special tutors for him to help him learn how to properly write code. It is an example of parents being able to recognize a gift in a child. For all we know, they took him to a shrink all those years, too, hoping to socialize him. Maybe that's a story for another time.