At 10:55 p.m. on a Sunday night, I am obsessively checking my Facebook. After clearing my notification (singular notification, because it has only been about ten minutes since I last checked it. Okay, it’s been two minutes. Judge me.) and RSVP-ing “maybe” to the event I’m probably not going to attend, the only thing left to do is close my eyes, click in random places on the home page, and mindlessly flip through pictures of people I haven’t spoken to in four years. I also futilely navigate back and forth between my profile and the home page several times before returning to Microsoft Word to find that all I have written is two lines: “_The Social Network_” and “by Molly Bolten.” So now you’ve probably caught on to the irony here: that I’m getting distracted by Facebook while attempting to write a review of the movie about the man and the scandal that gave birth to this monster. And I haven’t even mentioned the numerous people in my News Feed who have already added _The Social Network_ to their favorite movies or published statuses about how awesome it was, or how much they are in love with Jesse Eisenberg. Even as I write, Facebook is open behind this Word document telling me to use the Friend Finder because everyone who’s anyone is doing it, and therefore I should, too. But there is one thing that everyone who’s anyone is doing and that you should do, too, and that’s seeing _The Social Network_.
In a somewhat lackluster year for movies so far, this one comes along and reminds us what a great movie looks like. From the second the film starts, we are swept up into a dizzying and ultimately disturbing conversation between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), who is about to break up with him. Just before leaving, Erica assures him that, although he will go through life thinking that girls won’t like him because he’s a nerd, that won’t be the case—it will be because he’s an asshole. These crucial first five minutes of the film give us a full frontal look at Zuckerberg’s character—insecure, socially handicapped, aggressive, caustic and endlessly complex. This nerd is bent on revenge, and we can’t take our eyes off of him. Later in the film, a lawyer finds the crux of Zuckerberg’s character when she astutely observes, “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying so hard to be.” And there it is, the proverbial hammer that hit the nail on the head. And you thought Jesse Eisenberg was Michael Cera style, doomed to being typecast as the lanky, awkward nice guy as we see him in _Adventureland_ and _Zombieland_. No. _The Social Network_ proves that Eisenberg can be other things besides adorably clueless—his cluelessness in _The Social Network_ is not at all charming, much like his character in _The Squid and the Whale_.
In a fit of rage caused by Erica’s rejection and a deep-seated hatred for every other girl he hasn’t gotten with, Zuckerberg does what any newly broken-hearted boy would do: gets drunk with his best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), and proceeds to blog about his troubles while launching a website comparing the appearances of female Harvard undergraduates. The site gets 22,000 hits within two hours and catches the attention of Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) and the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer), who are working to build a social networking site. They recruit Zuckerberg to their team and a few months later, SURPRISE! Zuckerberg is the inventor—the only inventor—of The Facebook, the phenomenon sweeping the Harvard campus and eventually other campuses. The story of how Facebook was created is intercut with scenes of two depositions where Zuckerberg faces the parties he allegedly screwed over—first, Narendra and the “Winklevii,” as Zuckerberg fondly titles them at one point, and second, Eduardo Saverin.
With dialogue so sharp it could scratch a diamond and special appearances from the one and only Justin Timberlake (!!!) as Napster founder and party boy Sean Parker, _The Social Network_ is a mesmerizing, quick-witted work of art. Writer Aaron Sorkin presents us with a tightly woven, multi-layered script. Hilarious lines are seamlessly planted throughout the movie, and we’re barely given time to laugh before we have to—before we get to—jump back into the action. The film not only grabs the audience and doesn’t let go; it makes the audience grab onto it as well for dear life in order to keep up with Eisenberg’s verbal gymnastics. The film is deliciously full to the brim with duplicity, egoism, and the highest burning desire to belong that you’ve ever seen. And director David Fincher, who made _Fight Club_, _Se7en_ and _Zodiac_, among others, is no stranger to making films about the darkest parts of humanity and the sick obsessions that drive us to do both good and evil. _The Social Network_ is a thriller of a drama, and the best part is its relevance. Everyone who uses Facebook, and everyone who doesn’t, for that matter, should see this movie for its fascinating narrative of how this true cultural phenomenon was born. Throughout the film, we see just how much every feature of Facebook is a product of Zuckerberg’s tumultuous relationship with the Social Skills Monster, and it’s terrifying. Zuckerberg’s desire to belong, to get the girl, and to have the power to be an asshole motivates the machine that is Facebook. And that is ultimately why we use Facebook anyway—to connect with people, establish relationships, and most of all, get attention. Facebook taps into that desire in all of us. _The Social Network_ is an electrifying journey through the darkest parts of a dark man’s psyche, and it will be a cultural landmark of a film for years to come.