The Facebook phenomena may be explained as an epidemic of loneliness, voyeurism, or simply cyber-bullying. In the film, “The Social Network,” the last reason is why wunder-geek Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) launches the web concept, which blossoms into a multi-billion-dollar business and unending legal squabbles.
A student at Harvard University, Mark gets into a verbal joust with his girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), culminating in the bull’s eye perception that her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend is an a— hole. As quick as his rapid-fast thought process, Mark dives into his computer and assembles photos of Harvard women (Erica included) from the pages of sorority “facebooks,” online equivalents of school yearbooks or directories. He then sends them on cyberspace under the designation, “Who’s hot and who’s not,” with intimate details, incorporating bra size and comparisons to farm animals.
Not to miss the nastiness are the WASP elite fraternity brothers, headed by twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer, courtesy of CGI, and body double Josh Pence). They make a deal with Mark to expand their frat Facebook.
But the whiz kid has bigger plans. He wants to go global with a Facebook for all. His best friend, Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield), becomes his CFO in the new company, even supplying $19,000 in seed money.
Still strangely in need of status and acceptance, Social Network master Mark is lured to the West Coast by Napster founder and full-time swinger Sean Parker (a perfectly cast Justin Timberlake). Eduardo’s days are numbered. He’s soon to be left in the dust along with the Winklevoss twins.
In “Network,” Eisenberg follows a similar acting arc that he used in the recent “Holy Rollers,” a movie about an Orthodox Jewish youth corrupted by Ecstasy drug smugglers. “Network” has Zuckerberg’s character morally and socially bankrupt from the beginning. Grabbing an idea not totally his, he develops the world’s largest communal connection grid. Because he is even better at burning bridges, it’s a wonder that anyone is on his own Facebook page. Yes, the real Zuckerberg reportedly is bragging that he has hit the membership max of 7,000. But are any actually true friends?
The “fictional” film concludes with Erica denying his entry onto her Facebook list.
Directed by David Fincher (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) from an Aaron Sorkin (“A Few Good Men”) script, “The Social Network” is made doubly depressing by its appearance in time for the death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutger’s freshman driven to suicide by cyber-bullying.