Awaiting friend confirmation
Andrew Meisel '13 makes a move in Colby's 2-1 win over Middlebury.
When I first saw the trailers for The Social Network, I was skeptical. How can you make a movie about something that happened seven years ago? How can you say anything insightful when there isnâ€™t sufficient distance between the film and the events it chronicles? However, my skepticism proved unfounded.
The Social Network is one of the best films I have seen this year: beautifully scripted, directed and conceived. It deftly explores alienation and the brutality of a culture that promotes self-interest. What bridges were burned, what hearts were broken, what violence did Zuckerberg commit against himself and others in order to â€œdistinguish himselfâ€? How did Facebook leave the dorm room and enter the world? It is a story that is uncomfortably familiar. It is our story.
The film starts in a darkly lit bar, with Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) telling his girlfriend, Erica, about his frustrations at not being asked to join one of Harvardâ€™s elite and exclusive Final Clubs . When he tells her he would take her to the parties and â€œintroduce her to people she wouldnâ€™t normally meetâ€ if he were to be inducted, she realizes what a self-absorbed asshole he is and dumps him.
Mark gets drunk, posts hurtful things about Erica on his blog and creates a website called FaceMash, which allows Harvard students to objectify their female classmates (apparently going to Harvard does not mean you are either a gentleman or a scholar).
The success of this site (the traffic overwhelms the schoolâ€™s servers) and the invasion of privacy issues gain Mark notoriety and catch the attention of three entrepreneurially minded (but completely business unsavvy) students, who want to create a
site exclusively for Harvard students.
While Mark agrees to help them out with computer programming, he has plans of his own. He begins building up thefacebook.com with the help (by which I mean money) of his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Similarly, it is a social networking site exclusively for Harvard students; it would be like the Final Clubs, but online, and Mark would be in control. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I think it is a mark of excellence in film making that a story with almost no real action, (pure narrative), can hold oneâ€™s rapt attention for two hours. In all honesty, this film is a series of legal proceedings, in which we are told the story of Facebook.
The â€œtruthâ€ of this film is besides the point (as I have learned, the truth doesnâ€™t matter, just the convincing presentation of evidence) and clearly director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have an agenda. Certain themes are brought to the fore and dramatic liberties are taken.
The camera work of this film is simple but beautiful. Since most of the film is dialogue, the shot/reverse shot technique is employed constantly. However, it keeps up with the frenetic pace of the information age and Zuckerbergâ€™s skyrocketing success by cutting quickly between speakers, before you can really register what was said.
The film also has a fantastic ensemble cast. Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg is perfect. Completely glassy, armoring himself with his wit and arrogance, Eisenberg lets us see in crucial moments that Zuckerberg is completely vulnerable and lonely. It was never about the money for him, it was about â€œbeing a contender.â€ He gets his shot, but only by destroying every personal relationship that actually meant something. Garfield as Eduardo, Markâ€™s only friend and co-founder of Facebook, is the emotional core of this film and allows us to feel the hurt this race to the top has caused him and Mark.
As the film closes, we see Mark, sitting alone at his laptop looking tired and dejected. He has just sent a friend request to Erica, and is refreshing his page, waiting for her to reply. That is the essence of this film, that is the essence of our reality, that is why my heart broke as I watched.