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'The Social Network' Review: Impressive, but the Story Is Incomplete


After seeing “The Social Network,” it’s easy to dislike Mark Zuckerberg.

Still in his 20’s, Zuckerberg is the billionaire creator of Facebook, a massively popular website that has changed how people use the Internet. “The Social Network” chronicles the creation of Facebook and the success of Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg). Leaving aside its harsh treatment of its lead character, “Network” is still one of the best films of the year.

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The Social Network” tells the story of a young man disillusioned by rejection and unwavering in his determination to become successful. The film begins in a bar with a conversation between Zuckerberg and his then-girlfriend. After comparing dating Zuckerberg to dating a Stairmaster, she breaks up with him. He is shocked by her cold rejection and carelessly apologizes to win her back. When that proves unsuccessful, he takes his frustrations to the Internet calling her a “bitch” on his blog. As he drinks in his dorm room that night, he single-handedly creates a website where Harvard students can judge the attractiveness of school’s female population.

After his website proves successful in a matter of hours, Zuckerberg becomes well-known on campus. He then begins work on a new social website that will eventually become known as Facebook. The battle over who invented Facebook lies at the heart of “The Social Network.”

The story of Facebook’s creation is framed around two lawsuits that Zuckerberg faced after the site became wildly popular. Two brothers at Harvard, who originally hired Zuckerberg to build a similar site, sue him for stealing their idea. Additionally, Zuckerberg’s best friend Eduardo files a lawsuit against him as well. All three allege that they are partially responsible for the creation of Facebook and deserve credit for their significant contributions to it. The movie jumps from their testimony to the story of how Facebook became the massive sensation that it is.

Zuckerberg is clearly presented as the lead architect of the site but the film’s portrayal of him is extremely harsh. He is seen as a smug, condescending, and downright arrogant college student who despises the elitists on campus. Ironically enough, the movie itself treats Zuckerberg as an elitist who doesn’t care about the people who have helped him become successful. At times, Zuckerberg is also seen as the brilliant and driven developer that he undoubtedly is.

His best friend Eduardo Saverin is seen in a much more favorable light. Played by Andrew Garfield, Saverin is seen as an idealistic entrepreneur who doesn’t understand the full potential of Facebook. He is easily the most likable and relatable character in the story. Like a small-time fisherman who doesn’t notice a tidal wave approaching, Saverin is clueless about Facebook’s potential importance in the online world.

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As Facebook gains momentum, other people want to get involved including Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster. Parker sees the potential of the new site and seemingly seduces Zuckerberg into his world to the disapproval of Saverin. While Saverin is working tirelessly to market the website on a small scale, Parker sees a bigger picture and grabs onto Zuckerberg’s coattails, never letting go.

From the very first scene, the script for “The Social Network” is incredible. Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires, Aaron Sorkin brings this story to life. Known for sharp and fast-paced dialogue, Sorkin has previously written shows like “The West Wing” and movies like “A Few Good Men.” In “Network,” Sorkin rises to a new level and has almost guaranteed himself an Academy Award nomination and will likely be the front runner in the adapted screenplay category.

Even with movies based on true stories like “Network,” audiences will likely never understand the complete story of how Facebook was created and who was really responsible for it. It is doubtful that Zuckerberg is as vengeful and angry as he is presented as being in this film and I hope one day he tells his side of the story. Despite this movie’s portrayal of him, Zuckerberg is a young genius and his work ethic speaks for itself.

“The Social Network” is an extremely well-done and often brilliant depiction of the creation of Facebook but it’s surely not the complete story of how a Harvard undergraduate student became a billionaire and how Facebook went from being an idea to being an online phenomenon.

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