Portrait of an Asshole as a Young Man
Like most people, I don’t know a lot about the creation of Facebook. Maybe I should because I live so close to the Silicon Valley but really, who keeps up with this stuff? I came into this film knowing what most of us know. Facebook was started as a site for college kids to connect with each other and later was opened to the general public. Like most stories about a company that went on the generate billions of dollars, it’s not quite that simple.
At its core is Mark Zuckerberg. He says he created Facebook, yet a lot of people, including his best friend, sued him for shared rights and creation. The most interesting thing about this film, is I feel, the filmmakers were trying to be very fair to Zuckerberg. Yet he comes off as such a huge asshole, it’s hard to sympathize on any level.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize for any film to be watchable, especially when it’s basically about deposition meetings, you’re going to be forced to take some liberties. However, you would think some of those creative touches would be to make Zuckerberg appear to have some redeeming qualities.
To judge this strictly as a film, it’s quite watchable for being mostly a lot of talk and no action. The standout performance definitely goes to Andrew Garfield. His real life character (Eduardo Saverin) is really the only one who changes through the course of the story. We watch as he goes from wide-eyed optimist to learning the world is a cruel place. He truly is the fully fleshed out character of the film. A lot of attention has gone to Jesse Eisenberg because he’s playing the lead, but other than his scorching opening scene, he really doesn’t have much to do. We watch Zuckerberg lurk around and throw off smart-ass remarks, but he basically lacks so much personality that it doesn’t seem like it would be a big acting challenge.
Justin Timberlake, on the other hand, shines as the swarmy Sean Parker. I’ve never been a fan of Timberlake’s music (sorry, that’s NOT R&B), yet his collaborations with Andy Samberg on SNL, show me that he’s a got a great sense of humor and is quite likable when he’s not singing. He turns in a solid performance and some of the best scenes are those between his character and Zuckerberg. It’s clear that Parker is a hero to Zuckerberg. This is the type of person he wishes he could be. Charismatic and comfortable with the ladies, Patrick swaps book smarts for street smarts and Zuckerberg is enamored with a figure that can naturally command so much power. With this relationship, we see that it is not traditional intelligence that impresses Zuckerberg. He’s surrounded by that at Harvard. Instead, it’s that special enigmatic power that he wants to find a way to tap into. If he can’t possess it himself, he can at least glob on to it through Parker.
Director David Fincher sure is developing an eclectic resume of films. To have hard core action like Fight Club, and then move on to this film where action charged scenes involve computer programmers writing code really super fast, is quite a challenge. He delivers a highly watchable film that could have easily been trickle-slow.
There was a lot of hype to this film and while it was quite enjoyable, you honestly could wait for this on DVD. It was interesting to watch a movie whose main premise is who is telling the truth. Yet at the same time, we the audience also need to question how much of the movie is truthful. Can Mark Zuckerberg be as truly detestable and emotionless as he was portrayed? Was Eduardo Severin that naïve and sweet? This movie is supposed to be loosely based on the book The Accidental Billionaires. However, writer Aaron Sorkin has said that he really has deviated from that original work.
If you want to see what all the hype is about, definitely see this in theaters. You won’t be disappointed. However, if you don’t have to be on the cutting edge of the next great thing, you can rent the DVD in a few months.