Something to Get Social About

Joining the myriads of “true story” movies, “The Social Network,” a new film by director David Fincher, fulfilled every mission this type of entertainment is supposed to: it was informative, interesting and inspiring.

Anyone who had ever suffered from insomnia thinking “How did someone come up with such a thing as Facebook?” now got his or her curiosity satisfied. And this wasn’t done in the spirit of a documentary where all facts have to be supported by evidence. On the contrary, it was personalized, entertaining and thought-provoking. It was a little too long though.

Believe it or not, it all started with a broken heart on Harvard campus.

Just as in “Adventureland” (2009) where he plays James Brennan, whose lonely dreams of college and trip to Europe break against the wall of financial insufficiency, Jesse Eisenberg starts “The Social Network” on a solitary note as well. Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard nerd, who always knows the answer to any professor’s question and often thinks that he is smarter than his peers, suddenly faces a break-up with his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). Her main problem with him is his ugly straight forwardness. As a result of this, Mark blogs about Erica writing things like “she looks like 34D, but she really wears 34B and skillfully conceals it.” At the same time, over a couple of beers, he manages to access the files of girls on Harvard’s official website, downloads their pictures and creates a new web page where guys check out the images and decide who is hotter. The site gets crazy amount of hits during the first night, which suddenly makes Mark famous among Harvard males and notorious among the administration and girls.

As it usually goes, one thought brings about another one and it rolls like a snowball until it becomes big and profound. As more snow is clinging to the “ball,” you learn how you got “relationship status” and why you need to be added as a friend before you can view someone’s page and many other things that are on your facebook profile and you take them for granted.

If not done with a touch of humor, the movie wouldn’t be more valuable than a Wikipedia blurb about the creation of “the social network,” which made Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire in the world and brought about two lawsuits with his former allies. The only present-time action is discussion of the case with lawyers sitting on the opposite sides of a long office table and a final romantic scene at the end. All other events are the products of Zuckerberg’s memory and it is not clear whether or not they are objective. But the attitudes the protagonist has towards people (smart-ass misogynist) and money (“don’t-give-a-damn”) cause the audience to smile constantly. These moments of humor make the length of the movie more tolerable.

Another positive aspect of the movie is romance. A good film has to include a love story, the sadder the better. The most touching episode is probably the final scene in the movie when Mark is in the middle of the two lawsuits and realizes that he has no choice but to pay the people who are suing him, he seems to care about only one thing: to see that Erica accepted his friend request. What Mark doesn’t understand is that he needs to be softer and more understanding while communicating with people; otherwise, he will always be lonely.

By the way, as far as Erica is concerned, even though she doesn’t look like a 34D girl, she is self-confident and self-respectful. Mark and his success do not seem to impress her at all. Well, she has a facebook page, like everyone does, but we never find out whether she includes Mark into her friends list or not.

She probably shouldn’t. Public disgrace brought to her by Zuckerberg is not a thing to be easily forgotten.

Out of all other characters, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) and Eduardo Saverin(Andrew Garfield) stand out as two remarkable young men who hate each other from the first sight. Sean is the man who parties all the time and makes women crazy about him. In addition to his personal charm, he is a good businessman, too. He manages to get a lot of money for facebook and suggests Mark to drop the original “the” in the site’s name.

Compared to Sean, Eduardo, who is Mark’s ex-friend and roommate and the site’s original financial source, is less outgoing, less popular among females and less successful in sponsoring the project. He goes to New York City for his internship, abandons it in search of monies for his and Mark’s common good. Ironically enough, he comes back to Mark with nothing and learns that he is no longer needed.

Least successful, he is a great character though. He is a handsome and intelligent man from a wealthy family and he deserves great sympathy for his crazy girlfriend who, infuriated with jealousy, starts a fire in his room while Eduardo is trying to fix the situation with Mark.

Concentrating on the origin of Facebook, the movie is also a story about the life of Harvard students. The viewers learn how the life of this prestigious university is organized, including clubs, tradition and money versus intellect relationships. At the same time, the organization of Harvard society influenced Facebook, the social network that wasn’t originally as democratic as it is now (whoever wants can easily join).

The movie is also a source of inspiration for the viewers. It seems so easy to invent something and become rich that everyone starts mentally turning new ideas to reality. Who knows how many great inventions can come out of one fun night in a college dorm? It never hurts to try, at least.

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