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"The Social Network" is about a young man who possessed an uncanny ability to look into a system of unlimited possibilities and sense a winning move. His name is Mark Zuckerberg, he created Facebook, he became a billionaire in his early 20s, and he reminds me of the chess prodigy Bobby Fischer. There may be a touch of Asperger's syndrome in both: They possess genius but are tone-deaf in social situations. Example: It is inefficient to seek romance by using strict logic to demonstrate your intellectual arrogance.

David Fincher's film has the rare quality of being not only as smart as its brilliant hero, but in the same way. It is cocksure, impatient, cold, exciting and instinctively perceptive.

It hurtles through two hours of spellbinding dialogue. It makes an untellable story clear and fascinating. It is said to be impossible to make a movie about a writer, because how can you show him only writing? It must also be impossible to make a movie about a computer programmer, because what is programming but writing in a language few people in the audience know? Yet Fincher and his writer, Aaron Sorkin , are able to explain the Facebook phenomenon in terms we can immediately understand, which is the reason 500 million of us have signed up.

To conceive of Facebook, Zuckerberg ( Jesse Eisenberg ) needed to know almost nothing about relationships or human nature (and apparently he didn't). What he needed was the ability to intuit a way to involve the human race in the Kevin Bacon Game. Remember that Kevin Bacon himself need not know more than a fraction of the people linking through him. Same on Facebook. I probably know 40 of my Facebook friends well, 100 glancingly, 200 by reputation. All the others are friends of friends. I can't remember the last time I received a Friend Request from anyone I didn't share at least one "Mutual Friend" with.

For the presence of Facebook, we possibly have to thank a woman named Erica ( Rooney Mara ). "The Social Network" begins with Erica's date with Zuckerberg. He nervously sips a beer and speed-talks through an aggressive interrogation. It's an exercise in sadistic conversational gamesmanship. Erica gets fed up, calls him an asshole and walks out.

Erica (a fictional character) is right, but at that moment she puts Zuckerberg in business. He goes home, has more beers and starts hacking into the "facebooks" of Harvard dorms to collect the head shots of campus women. He programs a page where they can be rated for their beauty. This is sexist and illegal, and proves so popular, it crashes the campus servers. After it's fertilized by a mundane website called "The Harvard Connection," Zuckerberg grows it into Facebook.

In theory, there are more possible moves on a chess board than molecules in the universe. Chessmasters cannot possibly calculate all of them, but using intuition, they can "see" a way through this near-infinity to a winning move. Nobody was ever better at chess than Bobby Fischer. Likewise, programming languages and techniques are widely known, but it was Zuckerberg who intuited how he could link them with a networking site. The genius of Facebook requires not psychological insight but its method of combining ego with interaction. Zuckerberg wanted to get revenge on all the women at Harvard. To do that, he involved them in a matrix that is still growing.

It's said there are child prodigies in only three areas: math, music and chess. These non-verbal areas require little maturity or knowledge of human nature, but a quick ability to perceive patterns, logical rules and linkages. I suspect computer programming may be a fourth area.

Zuckerberg may have had the insight that created Facebook, but he didn't do it alone in a room, and the movie gets a narration by cutting between depositions for lawsuits. Along the way, we get insights into the pecking order at Harvard, a campus where ability joins wealth and family as success factors. We meet the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer ), rich kids who believe Zuckerberg stole their "Harvard Connection" in making Facebook. We meet Eduardo Saverin ( Andrew Garfield ), Zuckerberg's roommate and best (only) friend, who was made CFO of the company, lent it the money that it needed to get started and was frozen out. And most memorably we meet Sean Parker ( Justin Timberlake ), the founder of two legendary web startups, Napster and Plaxo.

It is the mercurial Parker, just out of work but basked in fame and past success, who grabbed Zuckerberg by the ears and pulled him into the big time. He explained why Facebook needed to move to Silicon Valley. Why more money would come from venture capitalists than Eduardo would ever raise with his hat-in-hand visits to wealthy New Yorkers. And he tried, not successfully, to introduce Zuckerberg into the fast lane: big offices, wild parties, women, the availability of booze and cocaine.

Zuckerberg was not seduced by his lifestyle. He was uninterested in money, stayed in modest houses, didn't fall into drugs. A subtext the movie never comments on is the omnipresence of attractive Asian women. Most of them are smart Harvard undergrads, two of them (allied with Sean) are Victoria's Secret models, one (Christy, played by Brenda Song) is Eduardo's girlfriend. Zuckerberg himself doesn't have much of a social life onscreen, misses parties, would rather work. He has such tunnel vision he doesn't even register when Sean redrafts the financial arrangements to write himself in and Eduardo out.

The testimony in the depositions makes it clear there is a case to be made against Zuckerberg, many of them sins of omission. It's left to the final crawl to explain how they turned out. The point is to show an interaction of undergraduate chaos, enormous amounts of money and manic energy.

In an age when movie dialogue is dumbed and slowed down to suit slow-wits in the audience, the dialogue here has the velocity and snap of screwball comedy. Eisenberg, who has specialized in playing nice or clueless, is a heat-seeking missile in search of his own goals. Timberlake pulls off the tricky assignment of playing Sean Parker as both a hot shot and someone who engages Zuckerberg as an intellectual equal. Andrew Garfield evokes an honest friend who is not the right man to be CFO of the company that took off without him, but deserves sympathy.

"The Social Network" is a great film not because of its dazzling style or visual cleverness, but because it is splendidly well-made. Despite the baffling complications of computer programming, web strategy and big finance, Aaron Sorkin's screenplay makes it all clear, and we don't follow the story so much as get dragged along behind it. I saw it with an audience that seemed wrapped up in an unusual way: It was very, very interested.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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The Social Network movie poster

The Social Network (2010)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language

120 minutes

Rashida Jones as Marilyn

Andrew Garfield as Eduardo

Justin Timberlake as Sean

Armie Hammer as Cameron/Tyler

Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg

Max Minghella as Divya

Rooney Mara as Erica

Directed by

  • David Fincher
  • Aaron Sorkin

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‘the social network’: film review.

"The Social Network" has as its protagonist a character drawn in a Shakespearean mode, a high-achieving individual who carries within him the seeds of his own destruction.

By Kirk Honeycutt

Kirk Honeycutt

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'The Social Network' Review: Movie (2010)

This would, of course, be young Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), the man behind the social-network phenomenon Facebook.

As the movie makes abundantly clear, the facts behind its founding are in dispute but, without a doubt, Zuckerberg did create Facebook. Yet far from celebrating this feat, the movie examines how a man who cares little about money became the world’s youngest billionaire yet lost his one true friend.

The Bottom Line A mesmerizing, bewildering and infuriating protagonist makes this movie about Facebook's creation a must-see.

At least that’s what the movie says happened. The film, written by Aaron Sorkin, is based on Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires” and Sorkin’s own research yet neither writer, predictably, was able to talk to Zuckerberg to get his point of view. So it is as a fictional construct — based on ample public sources, however — that “Mark Zuckerberg” achieves its Shakespearean dimension. He gains the whole world but loses his most meaningful asset because of a fatal flaw on view in the very first scene.

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“Social” has the potential to be that rarity — a film that gains critical laurels and award mentions yet also does killer boxoffice. Certainly, Sorkin, the film’s director, David Fincher, and its heavyweight producers have crafted a smart, insightful film that satisfies both camps. The hook is the film’s of-the-moment topic but the payoff is its hero. Or antihero or villain or whatever.

The very first scene? Harvard undergrad Mark and his girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), are trying to have a dinner date at a noisy Cambridge brew pub. Or at least she’s trying. He’s talking a mile a minute with every syllable screaming egocentricity and dripping with sarcasm and defensive insecurity. She can’t even change the topic. Indeed, she can’t even tell what the topic is.

After one insult too many, it’s easier for Erica to break up with Mark. So the flaw is most ironic — the guy who will revolutionize the way people communicate can’t communicate himself. He is virtually blind to anyone else’s perspective.

Pissed off, Mark jogs home to get drunk, hit his computer and, to take his mind off Erica, accidentally invents Facebook. Okay, it’s not Facebook; it’s Facemash, a stupid idea that only a genius computer hacker/scientist would dream up in which he hacks into Harvard’s computer system, downloads all photos from the “facebooks” of the university’s houses and asks students to vote on which girls are the hottest.

The contest goes viral, crashes Harvard’s computer system, earns Mark a reprimand from authorities but attracts the attention of Harvard twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence with the help of special effects). These are wealthy and privileged scholar-athletes trying to develop an inner-campus website to create a place for students to meet, greet and perhaps score dates.

They approach the anarchist-hacker, who is intrigued by their idea but prefers to go to his best friend and fellow Jew, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), to finance a social network that contains elements of the Winklevosses’ idea but transforms it into what we now know as Facebook.

Then the rest of the movie, in an inspired move by Sorkin, takes place at legal depositions. Because a few years later, Facebook is a billion-dollar miracle and lawsuits are flying everywhere: The twins and their Indian-American partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella, who doesn’t look or act Indian), and Eduardo, who has been frozen out of Facebook thanks to the Svengali-like efforts of Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), are all suing Mark.

As everyone recollects his version of events, the film flashes back to these developments. You understand no one’s testimony is reliable but Sorkin tries to sort out the possible scenario that lands everyone in this legal soup.

The story thus becomes a tale of power, fame, betrayal, revenge and responsibility. Under Fincher’s astute direction the characters fairly pop out at you. Even in a one-scene performance, famed Harvard president Larry Summers (Douglas Urbanski) startles the viewer with his abrupt impatience and sterling wit as he dismisses the twins’ heavy-handed attempt to enlist the school in their cause.

Fincher also places events in milieus that ring true. His portrait of campus life among America’s elite is pitch-perfect, every bit as much as the drug-and-party excesses of Silicon Valley and the war rooms of corporate attorneys.

There have been complaints from early screenings that no one is very likable in this movie. You’ll get no argument here but that’s beside the point. “Mark Zuckerberg” is thoroughly unlikable but he is an original. Ask yourself: How many truly original characters show up in American movies?

Mark exists in his own world. He dresses like he just rolled out of bed and doesn’t relate to people half as well as he does to computers, algorithms and user databases. He finds people, at best, helpful to his creations or, at worst, annoying. He cannot speak civilly to anyone yet has the verbal skills to hone in on sore points with his acquaintances. His oral jousting with the deposing attorneys is brilliantly rendered in dialogue Sorkin presumably lifted from transcripts.

About the only character that comes off well is Garfield’s Eduardo. The guy seems to care genuinely about his ex-friend and is bitterly unhappy about his treatment by Mark. Everyone else is borderline manic, such as Eduardo’s sweet-and-sour girlfriend, played by a Brenda Song.

The production is the best studios can offer with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ hypnotically repetitive score, Jeff Cronenweth’s fluid, sparkling cinematography and Donald Graham Burt’s pinpoint-accurate production design all major pluses. There’s no flaw here.So the film comes down to a mesmerizing portrait of a man who in any other age would perhaps be deemed nuts or useless, but in the Internet age has this mental agility to transform an idea into an empire. Yet he still cannot rule his own life to the point he doesn’t lose what’s important to him.

At least that’s what the movie says.

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The Social Network Reviews

movie review the social network

The Social Network has the potential to be a classic, a masterpiece for our times that captures early 21st century life, while still offering robust, mature entertainment.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5 | May 7, 2024

movie review the social network

A film by Fincher that, with a brilliant aesthetic, functions as the voice of expression of a generation silenced by the social isolation behind computers. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 9/10 | Feb 24, 2024

movie review the social network

There are plenty of pop psychology motivations seeded through the film... but they explain the protagonist about as much as Rosebud does in 'Citizen Kane.' This is a story of hubris and ambition, of friendship and jealousy, of class and cultural cache...

Full Review | Sep 8, 2023

movie review the social network

[David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin] elevate what could have been popular fodder into a serious, entertaining, and engaging drama that, through its depth and insight, regards business and social existence in the digital age with a critical eye.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Aug 3, 2023

movie review the social network

The Social Network will go down as one of the best movies of the 21st century, and potentially one of the best movies of all time. It’s Sorkin, Fincher, Eisenberg, and Garfield all at the top of their game.

Full Review | Jul 25, 2023

movie review the social network

The Social Network is another masterful piece of cinema, this time delivered by not one but two magnificent filmmakers. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin employ their mutual perfectionism and meticulousness to create an extraordinarily engaging narrative.

Full Review | Original Score: A | Jul 24, 2023

Equally absorbing are its themes of friendship and loyalty in a playground of petty politics. A superb Jesse Eisenberg as the insensitive, conflicted genius was a revelatory match for Fincher's technical talent.

Full Review | Apr 20, 2023

The Social Network is an electrifying look into Frankenstein's laboratory. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Jul 20, 2022

movie review the social network

The craft on display is impeccable like every Fincher production, and there’s an equally brilliant screenplay to support him.

Full Review | Original Score: 10/10 | May 27, 2022

movie review the social network

A perfectly poignant and cautionary tale about how the biggest influencers in tech began and continue to operate today.

Full Review | Jul 28, 2021

An emotional and suspenseful story...a moral tale about the sweet smell of success.

Full Review | Jul 23, 2021

Much, much better than a film about Facebook has any right to be...

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | May 21, 2021

movie review the social network

The Social Network posits that perhaps the tastiest cinematic treat is one that renders its audience gleefully captivated until they transcend into a fugue dream state.

Full Review | Feb 17, 2021

movie review the social network

Who knew coding and depositions could be exciting? Fincher's direction is surgical, Sorkin's script is a thing of beauty and the young cast is superb. The Social Network is outstanding. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Feb 5, 2021

movie review the social network

The combination of rapid fire dialogue, driven performances, and impeccable editing give The Social Network an incredible sense of energy.

Full Review | Original Score: 10/10 | Jan 3, 2021

A decade later, it plays more like a supervillain origin story. It's There Will Be Blood if Daniel Plainview was a dweeby computer programmer who drank lots of Mountain Dew.

Full Review | Dec 24, 2020

movie review the social network

Decent intrigue, rivalrous backstabbing, and a little courtroom-style contention.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Nov 30, 2020

The best of Aaron Sorkin's razor-sharp writing and David Fincher's visual style come together to bring to life the riveting true story...

Full Review | Oct 28, 2020

movie review the social network

It's a gripping adaptation of Ben Mezrich's book, which paints Zuckerberg as both arrogant opportunist and naive underdog.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Oct 3, 2020

movie review the social network

An extraordinarily good film featuring a more disciplined Fincher, a more visual Sorkin, and a cast that works together to bring it all to vibrant and disturbing life.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4.0 | Sep 23, 2020


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Movie Review | 'The Social Network'

Millions of Friends, but Not Very Popular

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movie review the social network

By Manohla Dargis

  • Sept. 23, 2010

What makes Mark Zuckerberg run? In “The Social Network,” David Fincher’s fleet, weirdly funny, exhilarating, alarming and fictionalized look at the man behind the social-media phenomenon Facebook — 500 million active users, oops, friends, and counting — Mark runs and he runs, sometimes in flip-flops and a hoodie, across Harvard Yard and straight at his first billion. Quick as a rabbit, sly as a fox, he is the geek who would be king or just Bill Gates. He’s also the smartest guy in the room, and don’t you forget it.

The first time you see Mark (Jesse Eisenberg, firing on all cylinders), he’s 19 and wearing a hoodie stamped with the word Gap, as in the clothing giant, but, you know, also not. Eyes darting, he is yammering at his girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), whose backhand has grown weary. As they swat the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s words at each other, the two partners quickly shift from offline friends to foes, a foreshadowing of the emotional storms to come. Soon Mark is back in his dorm, pounding on his keyboard and inadvertently sowing the seeds of Facebook, first by blogging about Erica and then by taking his anger out on the rest of Harvard’s women, whose photos he downloads for cruel public sport: is she hot or not.

(“The Social Network” opens the 48th New York Film Festival on Friday and opens in theaters next Friday.)

Although the names have remained the same, “The Social Network” is less of a biopic of the real Mr. Zuckerberg than a gloss on the boot-up, log-on, plug-in generation. You don’t learn much about him other than the headlines, beginning with Facebook’s less-than-humble start in 2003. Despite its insistently unsexy moving parts (software, algorithms), the movie is paced like a thriller, if one in which ideas, words and bank books blow up rather than cars. It’s a resonant contemporary story about the new power elite and an older, familiar narrative of ambition, except instead of discovering his authentic self, Mark builds a database, turning his life — and ours — into zeroes and ones, which is what makes it also a story about the human soul.

The price of that ambition, at least as dramatized here, is borne by those around Mark, who remains a strategic cipher throughout: a Facebook page without a profile photo. Charmless and awkward in groups larger than one, he rarely breaks into a smile and, if memory serves, never says thank you. He seems wary at some moments, coolly calculating at others: when his eyes haven’t gone dead, you can see him working all the angles. One of those angles, according to Mr. Sorkin’s script, which follows the outline of “The Accidental Billionaires,” Ben Mezrich’s book about Facebook, was one of the site’s co-founders, Eduardo Saverin (a very good Andrew Garfield), a fellow student of Mark’s as well as his first big check writer and personal chump.

Eduardo strides in early, his collar turned up against the Cambridge winter, and quickly moves in on our sympathies, which Mr. Eisenberg, guided by his supremely confident director, never does. Mr. Garfield can sometimes wilt on screen as if in surrender, but here his character merely sways, held up by an essential decency that makes Eduardo so appealing and such a contrast to the sometimes appalling Mark. (When Mr. Eisenberg makes Mark’s face go blank, the character seems scarily emptied out: it’s a subtly great, at times unsettling, performance.) Mark might be the brains in this unlikely friendship, but Eduardo is its conscience and slowly bleeding heart. Though he knows better, he hangs on even after he’s been cut loose.

The plot thickens after Erica dumps Mark, and he meets a pair of near-comically-perfect supermen, the identical twins and future Olympic rowers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. (An amusing Armie Hammer plays both brothers with wit and the aid of different hairstyles, special effects and a body double.) The Winklevosses emerge as unlikely objects of Mark’s interest and, much like Erica, his eventual contempt. The twins and their friend Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), have a Web site idea and need Mark’s programming help. They’ll pay (and how!), but the gig, they grandly explain, will also rehabilitate Mark’s reputation on campus after the hot/not scandal, a patronizing moment that echoes Mark’s breakup with Erica. “You’d do that for me?” he asks the twins flatly, recycling a line Erica once used on him.

The conspicuous paradox that “The Social Network” plays with is that the world’s most popular social networking Web site was created by a man with excruciatingly, almost pathologically poor, people skills. The benign view of Facebook is that it creates “a community,” a sense of intimacy, which is of course one reason it also creeps out some of its critics. As the virtual-reality visionary Jaron Lanier puts it bluntly in his manifesto “You Are Not a Gadget,” Facebook also reduces life to a database. In “The Social Network,” a character lashes out at both Mark and “the angry” who haunt the Internet, but Mr. Lanier takes the view that it’s fear that drives the idolizers of what he calls the “new strain of gadget fetishism.”

Beyond the obvious (money, sex, fame) it’s hard to know what truly pushes Mark, whose personality emerges in furtive smiles, gushes of words and painful pauses. Eventually everyone does pay: the Winklevosses, Eduardo, even Mark. The filmmakers have their ideas about who did what to whom, but they don’t try to fill in all the blanks or, worse, soften Mark’s edges with a Psych 101 back story. You see what turns him on: software, revenge and, in several lightly comic and darkly foreboding scenes, Sean Parker, the flamboyant co-creator of Napster, who’s played by Justin Timberlake as a jittery seducer. Sean oozes into Mark’s life for a piece of the action and instantly dazzles the younger man with his bad-boy ways (coke and Champagne for everyone!), sexy dates and big, brash talk of riches.

Shooting in digital and working with the cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, Mr. Fincher turns down the lights and tamps down his visual style, deploying fewer special-effects sleights of hand than he did in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” with its wizened and baby Brad Pitt, while also maintaining the familiar Fincher atmosphere of dread. Harvard has rarely been represented to such dolorous effect as in “The Social Network,” where even the colors seem leached of joy. A restrained, somber palette and the shallow depth of field express the limits of Mark’s world, while the rapid, seamless cutting among different times and spaces — scenes of him creating Facebook are woven together with scenes of him in separate depositions — evokes the speed of his success, giving the narrative terrific momentum.

Mr. Fincher pointedly abandons his smudged browns for a gauzily lighted sequence of the twins rowing at a tony British club that, with the edges of the image blurred and movements slowed, looks like a dream. This is a world of rarefied privilege in which men still wear straw boaters, and royalty blathers within earshot. Mark isn’t invited, not because he’s poor (he isn’t), but because this is a closed, self-reproducing system built on exclusivity and other entitlements, including privacy. (The movie refers to Mark’s being Jewish, and the twins look as if they crewed for the Hitler Youth, but that’s just part of the mix.) Mark doesn’t breach this citadel, he sidesteps it entirely by becoming one of the new information elite for whom data is power and who, depending on your view of the Internet, rallies the online mob behind him.

“The Social Network” takes place in the recognizable here and now, though there are moments when it has the flavor of science fiction (it would make a nice double bill with “The Matrix”) even as it evokes 19th-century narratives of ambition. (“To be young, to have a thirst for society, to be hungry for a woman,” Balzac writes in “Le Père Goriot.”) The movie opens with a couple in a crowded college bar and ends with a man alone in a room repeatedly hitting refresh on his laptop. In between, Mr. Fincher and Mr. Sorkin offer up a creation story for the digital age and something of a morality tale, one driven by desire, marked by triumph, tainted by betrayal and inspired by the new gospel: the geek shall inherit the earth.

“The Social Network” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). The usual college high jinks, drugs, drinking and semi-naked women.


The film, to be shown on Friday on the opening night of the 48th New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, opens nationally next Friday.

Directed by David Fincher; written by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires,” by Ben Mezrich; director of photography, Jeff Cronenweth; edited by Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter; music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; production designer, Donald Graham Burt; costumes by Jacqueline West; produced by Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Cean Chaffin; released by Columbia Pictures. At 6 and 9 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Running time: 2 hours.

WITH: Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg), Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin), Justin Timberlake (Sean Parker), Armie Hammer (Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss), Max Minghella (Divya Narendra), Josh Pence (Tyler Winklevoss), Rooney Mara (Erica Albright), Brenda Song (Christy), Rashida Jones (Marylin Delpy), John Getz (Sy), David Selby (Gage), Denise Grayson (Gretchen), Douglas Urbanski (Larry Summers), Aaron Sorkin (Ad Executive) and James Shanklin (Prince Albert).

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Matt's review of David Fincher's The Social Network, which stars Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Rooney Mara.

David Fincher's The Social Network is not "The Facebook Movie".  Yes, the plot centers on the creation of the landmark social networking website, but it's not about Facebook.  It's about inspiration, betrayal, the weight of human relationships, the cost of success, and so much more.  It just so happens that Facebook's creation story is a good way to explore these themes.  Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin thought to brilliantly tell that story through multiple perspectives, and Fincher's thoughtful and restrained direction showcases some of the best narrative editing in years.  Add Sorkin's catchy, crackling dialogue and memorable performances from a terrific cast and it doesn't really matter that the film's about Facebook.  What matters is that The Social Network is moviemaking at its finest.

The film kicks off with a rapid-fire, dialogue-heavy scene between Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his soon-to-be-girlfriend (Rooney Mara) that only Sorkin could write.  It's an opening scene that most films would kill to have as it lays its protagonist bare while still keeping him intriguing and hints at the motives that would drive him to create one of the most popular, influential, and lucrative inventions of all-time.  It's been said that "This is the movie Facebook (i.e. Zuckerberg) doesn't want you to see," but the Zuckerberg presented in The Social Network is almost a tragic figure.  Every mean-spirited barb he throws out is something we wish we had the wit to say and yet the script and Eisenberg's phenomenal performance makes us pity the man who feels like he has to say such hurtful things in the first place.  Where Facebook and Co. may take umbrage isn't in Mark's Sorkin-scripted-words, but Zuckerberg's supposed actions.

And it's in trying to show those actions that the film presents its killer story structure.  The Social Network is told through two depositions for two different lawsuits.  One lawsuit is from the Aryan poster-child twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) and their partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) alleging that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook and forestalled the creation of a rival site.  The other is from Zuckerberg's former friend and business partner, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).  Through this layered storytelling, the notions of heroes and villains are laid aside and we see that on the road to the creation of this monumental website, there's enough credit/blame to go around.

Wandering into these shades of gray, Fincher has created his most restrained and subtle film to date.   The Social Network could have easily fallen into a trap of over-stylized and distractingly-flashy effects, but Fincher must have realized he wasn't making "The MySpace Movie" and instead opted for approach that's as clean and crisp as Facebook's layout.  Fincher finds his energy in the script, the acting, and with Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall's superb editing.  Watching Mark drunkenly burn through code as he hacks the websites of every dorm in Harvard is as exciting as most big-budget action scenes.

While Fincher's films always feature great performances, The Social Network is perhaps his most acting-reliant film to date and his cast does not disappoint.  Eisenberg deserves an Oscar nomination for his work here.  He doesn't take for granted that his character has some amazing lines and instead finds the humanity in someone so smart and yet so sad and angry.  To argue whether or not he's doing an accurate representation of the real Mark Zuckerberg is missing the point completely.  As a fully-realized person existing within the confines of the story being told, Eisneberg has crafted a character who is a tragic hero, anti-hero, and misunderstood evil genius all rolled up into one charismatic hoodie-and-sandals-wearing ball of energy.

Eisenberg steals the show a bit, but the rest of the cast turns in wonderful performances that show off the same restraint and balance seen in Fincher's directing.  Garfield plays a sweet innocent but doesn't shy away from Saverin's foolishness.  Justin Timberlake gives a smart performance as Sean Parker, a savvy entrepreneur whose opportunism never goes off to the point where it feels moustache-twirlingly nefarious.  Hammer does wonderful work of putting us on the side of the Winklevoss Twins and how they wrestle with the question of whether they should handle the theft of their billion-dollar idea with dignity and honor, or just beat Zuckerberg into a fine powder.  Everyone in this cast delivers and they make their characters more than just figures submitted for our adoration or scorn.

But my favorite aspect of The Social Network is the writing.  I've been a huge fan of Sorkin for years.  If A Few Good Men is playing on TV, I'll stop what I'm doing and watch it, and I refuse to acknowledge that The West Wing continued past season four.  Sorkin's writing is sharp, witty, memorable, uplifting, thoughtful, and plenty of other positive adjectives that would slow down the flow of this sentence even more.  The dialogue electrifies the scenes but never overshadows the pathos or rich thematic subtext, and using the depositions as framing device is a stroke of genius.  Sorkin and Fincher balance each other perfectly and I hope that they'll collaborate again in the future.

All the individual elements of the film make The Social Network more than just the creation story of a popular website.  When Fincher compares the movie to Citizen Kane or Sorkin compares it to Rashomon , they're not being self-congratulatory.  They're being accurate, not just in how The Social Network shares themes or storytelling devices, but in overarching themes about deep regrets and complicated truths.  You don't have to know what the "Like" button is or even like Facebook to appreciate this film.  The Social Network is for people who like smart, entertaining, thoughtful, and emotionally-satisfying films.

movie review the social network

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Fantastic performances, compelling story for teens and up.

The Social Network Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

On the one hand, seeing all these young entreprene

They're big thinkers with great ideas, but many of

A couple of men nearly come to blows but are stopp

Sexuality is one of the main themes (and one of th

Lots of casual use of words like "s--t," "a--hole,

Obviously, the movie is a huge promo for Facebook,

College students drink like fish. Mark and his sop

Parents need to know that this movie about the creation of Facebook will appeal to media-savvy tweens and young teens, but there's so much sexuality, drug use, drinking, and swearing (lots of "a--hole," "bitch," and "s--t") that it's a better fit for older high schoolers. The sexual content includes scenes of strip…

Positive Messages

On the one hand, seeing all these young entrepreneurs be creative and innovative is a great example for teenagers, but some of the actions that lead to Facebook's success are shady and unfortunate.

Positive Role Models

They're big thinkers with great ideas, but many of the characters make questionable, borderline unethical decisions. Mark alienates and forces out his best friend, and he's accused of stealing the overall idea of Facebook from three other Harvard students. The character of Sean Parker is egomaniacal, parties a lot, and is the main catalyst for some of the uglier wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes.

Violence & Scariness

A couple of men nearly come to blows but are stopped by their friends before an actual punch is thrown. In one scene, security comes to escort a character after he violently destroys a laptop.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Sexuality is one of the main themes (and one of the major motivations for Facebook) of the movie. No graphic is sex depicted, but in one scene two young women take Mark and Eduardo to bathroom stalls, where they kiss passionately before the women take off the guys' belts and perform oral sex (you see one woman squat down before the camera cuts to the guy's ecstatic face). In another scene, a couple wakes up together but neither can remember much about the other -- including their names. The girl walks around in panties and a cutoff top. There's a scene of strip poker, and lots of women come on to the guys, make out with them, and dance around them while scantily clad. In an online pre-Facebook stunt, Mark pits women against each other for others to rank according to "hotness."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Lots of casual use of words like "s--t," "a--hole," "screw," "hell," and "bitch," and even a couple "f--k"s. Also "goddamn" and "oh my God."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Obviously, the movie is a huge promo for Facebook, even if the tale of its origins is at times deeply unflattering toward founder Mark Zuckerberg. Many other brands are also featured, including Gap, Livejournal, Heineken beer, and schools like Harvard, Stanford, Boston University, Columbia, and Yale.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

College students drink like fish. Mark and his sophomore roommates get drunk and stoned in their dorm rooms and at frat parties, dinners, and nightclubs. There's lots of beer, cocktails, and champagne drinking, as well as pot smoking and even lines of some drug (probaby cocaine) about to be consumed.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie about the creation of Facebook will appeal to media-savvy tweens and young teens, but there's so much sexuality, drug use, drinking, and swearing (lots of "a--hole," "bitch," and "s--t") that it's a better fit for older high schoolers. The sexual content includes scenes of strip poker, a scene set the morning after a one-night stand, bathroom-stall trysts (with implied oral sex), girls dancing nearly naked, and more. College students party a lot, so it's no surprise that there's plenty of drinking -- often to excess -- and drug use (mostly marijuana, but also cocaine). While teens will learn the value of being innovative, there are some very negative messages and role models in the movie. Ultimately, The Social Network isn't the typical "genius entrepreneur" biopic, because it's really a story about the personal price of success. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (24)
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Based on 24 parent reviews

Phenomenal movie, but I wouldn't recommend for young teens

Outstanding film has language, sex and heavy drugs, what's the story.

In his sophomore year at Harvard, computer-science genius Mark Zuckerberg ( Jesse Eisenberg ) and his best friend, Eduardo Saverin ( Andrew Garfield ), create a site ranking their female classmates' hotness. It gets the attention of rich, entrepreneurial seniors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer) and their business partner, who hire Zuckerberg to create a social networking site for Harvard students. But instead of working on the Harvard-only site, Zuckerberg asks Saverin to front him the start-up costs to launch what they call "thefacebook," which starts at Harvard but eventually spreads to other elite universities across the country. After the site hits Stanford, Zuckerberg and Saverin meet Napster co-founder Sean Parker ( Justin Timberlake ), who ingratiates himself into the founders' circle, usurps Saverin, and helps Zuckerberg get the funds to transform "thefacebook" into Facebook. In the process, Zuckerberg faces lawsuits from his Harvard rivals and his former best friend.

Is It Any Good?

There was a lot of pre-release hype for THE SOCIAL NETWORK -- and for once, the buzz is well-deserved. This is truly an enthralling film; all of the pieces -- writing, plot, direction, acting, soundtrack -- create a memorable, timely movie that couldn't be more relevant to the current zeitgeist. If a story about a business' Ivy League founders or Harvard social intrigue or young billionaires in the making doesn't sound compelling, this movie will surprise you. And the credit must go to director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin, who've taken what sounds like a very boring premise -- boy genius possibly steals an idea to create one of the dominating media forces of the decade -- and turned it into an award-worthy film that even Facebook objectors will enjoy.

Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as a socially awkward computer genius who isn't an adorable geek (like many of Eisenberg's previous roles). He's a huge jerk -- or, as his date tells him in the first scene, a first-class "a--hole" -- obsessed with status and, later, getting back at said date for rejecting him. How many multibillion dollar ideas started out as a way to show up someone who rejected the innovator? And how many business are built on the backs of broken friendships? As Saverin, British import Garfield is pitch perfect. He exudes the confidence that comes with wealthy, but unlike Zuckerberg or the Winklevoss twins, he's not condescending. In many ways, he's the heart of the movie, because his character is so much more likable than Zuckerberg -- so much so that you want him to win his lawsuit against Facebook. The movie's biggest scene-stealers are Timberlake -- who's all slimy and paranoid charm as Parker -- and the Winklevoss brothers, who are played by Hammer so well that you'd swear it was twin actors. Each twin is patrician perfection personified, and the fact that their social networking idea is the seed that Zuckerberg turns into Facebook serves as a slap in the face to their entitlement. What's true and what isn't doesn't quite matter for the purposes of this film; in the end Facebook's "status" is bigger than all its players.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about Facebook and social networking . How have people's -- especially teens' -- lives changed as a result of Facebook's creation?

How accurate do you think the movie is? Why might filmmakers bend the facts (or take liberties in how a person is portrayed) when making a movie based on real life? How could you find out more if you wanted to?

What was the cost of Facebook's success for its founders? What is the movie's message about starting a huge enterprise? What does it take? What does it cost to succeed?

Does the founder of Facebook seem like a likable guy? Does this drama make you think less or more of him? Which of his many questionable choices makes him look the most unethical?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : October 1, 2010
  • On DVD or streaming : January 11, 2011
  • Cast : Andrew Garfield , Jesse Eisenberg , Justin Timberlake
  • Director : David Fincher
  • Studio : Columbia Pictures
  • Genre : Drama
  • Run time : 121 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language
  • Last updated : January 18, 2024

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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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The Social Network – review

In 1492 Columbus set out to find a shorter route to the silks and spices of India and discovered the New World. Some 511 years and God knows how many new frontiers later, Mark Zuckerberg , a 19-year-old Harvard student, sat down at his computer one night to have a little malevolent fun and accidentally hit on the idea of Facebook, an event almost as momentous and, we're told, involving far more people than currently live in the United States.

Although the advocate of numerous explorers have contested Columbus's claims, no lawyers representing Leif Ericsson, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot or Francis Drake turned up at his door seeking their share of his fortune, as turned out to be the case with Zuckerberg. This indeed happens whenever anyone strikes gold today, and Zuckerberg's story as told in The Social Network is in some ways The Treasure of the Sierra Madre of cyberspace. It's also one of the most intelligent, pertinent and arresting movies of the past couple of years.

The movie is brilliantly scripted by Aaron Sorkin, author of the courtroom drama A Few Good Men and the TV series The West Wing , and incisively directed by David Fincher, whose films (among them Se7en , Fight Club , The Game and Zodiac ) show him to be a doubter of outward appearance, a questioner of accepted realities. It begins with an extended dialogue set in a Boston bar near the Harvard University campus in the autumn of 2003. The clever, articulate Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), a Harvard sophomore, is having an edgy drink with a girlfriend, alternately courting and insulting her in a fashion that suggests a suspicious, contradictory nature, at once diffident and aggressive, anticipating and countering rejection. The slightly built, unprepossessing Eisenberg is a gifted specialist in troubled and troublesome young men, as he demonstrated in The Squid and the Whale and Adventureland , and this performance is a major addition to the gallery. The opening scene, which sets up what is to follow, ends with the girl telling him: "You're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a tech geek, and I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole."

Zuckerberg's response is to go drunkenly to his computer, hack into the university's data bank and create "Facemash", a college program that mocks all the girls on campus, making him a notorious celebrity to his peers and the subject of censure to the faculty. But this resentful Jewish outsider, who is excluded from the university's elite clubs, attracts the attentions of two insiders, the rich Wasp twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. These handsome oarsmen, heirs to old money, employ him to help create an exclusive site called Harvard Connection, with the less well-connected maths student Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) as their businessman. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg starts developing something he calls "Thefacebook" with seed money provided by his roommate Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).

First slowly, then suddenly, and then exponentially, Zuckerberg's operation expands from college to college with the intervention of a dazzling but erratic entrepreneur (or webpreneur), Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). The creator of the controversial, shortlived music site Napster, he has major connections in Silicon valley but has never been nearer a university than sleeping with Stanford co-eds in Palo Alto. It appears that the charismatic Parker's first contribution is to hypnotise Zuckerberg, his second to marginalise Saverin, his third to hold out the prospect of big hedge-fund money, and the fourth to suggest shortening the title to "Facebook".

I say "it appears" because few things are absolutely clear in this story. So to save themselves from running a gauntlet of process servers reaching from California to Massachusetts, and to make clear that they have not one but half-a-dozen unreliable witnesses, Sorkin and Fincher adopted the wise strategy of turning the narrative into a courtroom drama. The action is constantly interrupted by Zuckerberg, Saverin, Parker, the Winklevoss twins and Narendra appearing in pre-trial hearings in which middle-aged lawyers seek to determine the facts and the past states of minds of these young former partners. Once brothers in an exciting new venture, they're now angrily divided, distrustful, and fighting over the ownership of an enterprise worth billions and rapidly expanding around the world, changing perceptions of what is public and what is private along the way.

The case was ultimately settled out of court with billions changing hands. Everyone involved signed confidentiality agreements that, ironically, commit them to the kind of personal prudence and privacy that Facebook – a key agent of invasion and exhibition – threatens to destroy. The character I find most sympathetic is the president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, onetime Clinton's treasury secretary and a rather dubious figure in some ways. The arrogant, snobbish Winklevoss twins force their way into his office and attempt to use their family's social muscle to persuade him to crush the uncollegial Zuckerberg.

Summers kicks them out, telling them to move on and think up some other little invention in cyberspace. This is the funniest and to my mind most refreshing sequence in the movie, and it reminded me of the wonderful moment in Quiz Show when Paul Scofield, as the old-style literary academic Mark Van Doren, says dismissively of his son's depredations that "cheating on a quiz show is like plagiarising a comic strip". But both Summers and van Doren are men whose old-fashioned probity leaves them open to the charge of naivety when they fail to move with the times.

I should of course declare an interest, or possible lack of it, as I don't blog, tweet, text or surf and don't know my apps from my elbow. But The Social Network takes familiar ideas about trust, friendship, endeavour, ambition, betrayal and greed into fascinating new areas of experience. It's as riveting, lucid and open-minded a film as  Rashomon .

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The Social Network – review

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Could it be that the person who founded Facebook, the man who connected so many individuals that the total defies belief (500 million and counting), is himself incapable of close personal friendship? Is it possible that the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, a 26-year-old whose creation unites people in 207 countries using 70 languages, is the loneliest guy on the planet?

If that sounds like a hell of a premise, you don’t know the half of it. Smartly written by Aaron Sorkin, directed to within an inch of its life by David Fincher and anchored by a perfectly pitched performance by Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network” is a barn-burner of a tale that unfolds at a splendid clip.

Yet, while nothing is more au courant than the Facebook phenomenon, “Social Network” succeeds because its story is the stuff of archetypal movie drama. It marries the tradition of present-at-the-creation epics like “Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet,” “Madame Curie” and “Edison, the Man” with the familiar story of the corrupting power of ambition and success that allows audiences to feel, and not for the first time, that their ordinary lives have more meaning than those of the rich and famous.

Where “Social Network” departs from those earlier biopics is that, as played by Eisenberg, protagonist Mark Zuckerberg is introduced as extremely unlikable rather than heroic, a self-absorbed and arrogant 19-year-old Harvard sophomore who is as socially maladroit as he is fearsomely smart.

An actor who has nailed every discontented role he’s had, including “Roger Dodger,” “The Squid and the Whale” and “Adventureland,” Eisenberg excels as someone whose success is fueled, in classic movie fashion, by resentments of all shapes and sizes. His Zuckerberg is so consumed by the drive to get even and gain status that no one is a match for the combination of ruthless focus and disinterested frigidity he brings to the table.

The opportunity to simultaneously portray and dissect this kind of compelling yet distant individual is an ideal fit for Fincher. Presented with an involving central character cold enough to suit his chilly but considerable filmmaking talents, the director does his best work, convincingly presenting a story about conflicts over intellectual property as if it were a fast-paced James Bond thriller.

“Social Network” is fluidly shot by Jeff Cronenweth with convincing production design by Donald Graham Burt, both Fincher regulars, and the director also has the benefit of working with Sorkin’s strong and persuasive script. As fans of TV’s “The West Wing” well remember, Sorkin writes great crackling dialogue that dramatically represents the dynamics of power relations, and he puts that gift to great use here. Both his writing and the unnerving music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross bring so much propulsive energy to the project that resistance is all but futile.

Although the film is based on Ben Mezrich’s “The Accidental Billionaires,” Sorkin did his own research into the story and his treatment doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it. Though there has been talk of “Social Network” having Rashomon elements, that is something of a red herring. The film’s characters naturally have differing viewpoints and details are argued over, but the basic thrust of this tale never wavers, no matter whose eyes events are being told through.

“The Social Network” begins by positing that it was a very specific social resentment that got Zuckerberg started on his road to billions. The film opens at an undergraduate bar near the Harvard campus in the fall of 2003 with Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend Erica ( Rooney Mara, soon to be Lisbeth Salander in the Fincher-directed versions of the Stieg Larsson trilogy). Going out with him, she says tartly, is “like dating a Stairmaster.”

Furious at this rejection, Zuckerberg stomps back to his dorm and, with the help of roommate and best friend Eduardo Saverin (the gifted shape-shifter Andrew Garfield), takes revenge by doing some adroit hacking and coming up with Facemash, a site that enables students to vote on which Harvard women are the hottest. It gets 22,000 hits in two hours and crashes the university’s system.

That stunt attracts the attention of two of the school’s elite, rowers and identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (played, with the help of computer wizardry, by two unrelated actors, Armie Hammer and Josh Pence). They and friend Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) hire him to work on a university dating service they have in mind called Harvard Connection. Almost simultaneously, Zuckerberg, funded by best friend Saverin, starts “thefacebook,” which eventually morphs into you know what.

After these dynamics are established, “Social Network” jumps us a few years into the future, to separate but equally acrimonious lawsuits brought against Zuckerman by the Winklevosses and by Saverin, all of whom, albeit for different reasons, are upset enough with their erstwhile colleague and friend to drag him into legal proceedings.

Part of “Social Network’s” energy comes from the alacrity, courtesy of the brisk editing of Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, with which it jumps between the taking of two sets of depositions and the film’s depiction of the events that led to Facebook, and Zuckerberg, getting rich and famous. This includes the eventual involvement of Napster co-founder Sean Parker (a quite-convincing Justin Timberlake), a personality as seductive as he was divisive.

Another red herring about “Social Network” is how true to life these characterizations and this film are. It’s a red herring because movies, even well-intentioned documentaries, distort reality by their very nature. Zuckerberg’s adherents say the film is unfair to their man, and it may or may not be, but given that a New Yorker writer who interviewed him characterized the Facebook founder as “distant and disorienting, a strange mixture of shy and cocky,” Eisenberg’s characterization doesn’t seem that far off the mark.

All that really matters about “Social Network” is that it be convincing in movie terms, and it very much is that. Very likely gritting his teeth and agreeing is Zuckerberg himself. Someone who donated $100 million to the Newark, N.J., public schools just as this film was opening the New York Film Festival is probably worried that with all his billions he may forever be a prisoner of the film’s uncharitable portrayal, just as gifted actress Marion Davies was similarly blindsided by the talentless character based on her in “Citizen Kane.” Facebook may be powerful, but impressive movies have a force that cannot be denied.

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movie review the social network

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'Social Network': Fact Or Fiction, A Tangled Web

Bob Mondello 2010

Bob Mondello

movie review the social network

Geeky Genius: Andrew Garfield, Joseph Mazzello, Jesse Eisenberg and Patrick Mapel play computer nerds who create an incredibly successful social networking site. Merrick Morton/Sony Pictures hide caption

The Social Network

  • Director: David Fincher
  • Genre: Drama
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and language

With: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Rashida Jones


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A week ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave the Newark, N.J., school system $100 million on the same day the movie The Social Network opened at the New York Film Festival. The speculation was that he was trying to burnish his reputation before the movie tarnished it. The film opens across the country today, so ... let the tarnishing begin.

The story of how Facebook was invented, almost accidentally, in a Harvard dorm room should have been near-impossible to film -- computer geeks, code-writing, legal depositions. But boy does it click along, from the moment Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg as a cold-eyed, awkward boy genius) decides to get back at a girlfriend who dumps him during the opening credits. Zuckerberg's revenge? He hacks some school photo archives and enlists his best buddy in a dumb, sexist online stunt: They start using complicated mathematics to rank the girls at school.

Their hot-or-not prank gets so many hits, it crashes Harvard's server, and the dweebs are briefly campus celebs. Zuckerberg is still obnoxious, though, and devious, too: When he's approached to work on a socializing website for a couple of golden-boy jocks, he stalls and tries to develop one of his own. But it's all just names and pictures until a roommate comes to him one day with a question that gives Mark a moment of inspiration: The website needs to do something.

Mark is out the door so fast, he doesn't even realize it has snowed until his socks and sandals are ankle deep in the stuff. It's a throwaway moment, but the kind that says worlds about the character's mindset. When people talk about mesmerizing speakers, they often say they'd be happy to listen to them reciting the phone book. Let me just say I'd be happy to watch David Fincher directing the phone book.

With scripter Aaron Sorkin providing the verbal fireworks, Fincher tags and pokes his way through an almost Shakespearean thicket of betrayals and double-crosses. (You expect a Facebook movie to be about friending?) Think again: Zuckerberg's co-founder, who is given an almost visible conscience by Andrew Garfield, spars with Napster's creator (played as a snake in the digital grass by Justin Timberlake). Both of them think the cold fish whose approval they're fighting over actually gives a damn, but his thoughts are ever elsewhere, and sooner or later, almost everyone who meets him can't stand him, perhaps especially the Winklevoss twins -- the jocks who originally asked him to work on their campus-socializing site.

movie review the social network

Eisenberg's Mark gets help from Napster's founder Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake. Merrick Morton/Sony Pictures hide caption

Though the film conforms to the general contours of the public record, there's a good deal of fictionalizing going on in The Social Network . For example, that girlfriend who dumps Zuckerberg in the opening, to start things rolling? Made up. The real Zuckerberg and his fellow gazillionaires wouldn't talk to director David Fincher and his team -- probably a good thing for the filmmakers, as it frees them to invent character traits and motivations. It's less good for the gazillionaires, even if they can afford to buy respectability back, but hey, that's entertainment.

And The Social Network is terrific entertainment -- an unlikely thriller that makes business ethics, class distinctions and intellectual-property arguments sexy, that zips through two hours quicker than you can say "relationship status," and that'll likely fascinate pretty much anyone not named Zuckerberg.

Oh, and it's one that sends you out of the theater buzzing, breathless and eager to tell all of your friends, and friends of friends, that you've just seen what might end up being the best picture of the year. (Recommended)

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The Social Network: movie review

movie review the social network

'The Social Network:' A story of betrayal on the road to glory. The knockabout beginnings of Facebook gets a fast-paced spin in the new movie 'The Social Network.'

  • By Peter Rainer Film critic

October 1, 2010

" The Social Network ," about Mark Zuckerberg and the knockabout beginnings of his creation, Facebook , is a prime example of an op-ed movie – a film so topical it transcends mere movieness.

Does this also mean it's great? Well, no, although you wouldn't know it from all the advance critical hoopla. Most movies are unconcerned with the real, roiling world of commerce and communication. "The Social Network," by contrast, depicts the Facebook enterprise as, like it or not, a cosmic cultural shift.

Director David Fincher and his screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (creator of " The West Wing "), loosely adapting Ben Mezrich 's nonfiction book "The Accidental Billionaires," are not uncynical about the ways in which this enterprise and its instigator racked up the betrayals on the road to glory. More often than not, Mark comes across as a soulless savant. (A more accurate title for this film might be "The Revenge of the Nerds .")

FACEBOOK FACTS, Hollywood fiction: Four things the move got wrong

These jaundiced filmmakers are nevertheless awed by the system that made Facebook possible. "The Social Network" is a warts-and-all celebration of visionary capitalism and of the moxie required to realize the vision. Mark is both the unlikeliest and likeliest of heroes – or, more precisely, antiheroes – for our time. He's a wolf in geek's clothing.

The problem is, the geek in question, at least as Jesse Eisenberg plays him, doesn't have the emotional expansiveness to fill out a movie. Perhaps sensing this, the filmmakers play out the story line from multiple points of view and crowd the stage with a pageant of voluble supporting characters. At times, Mark seems like a bit actor in his own fantasia, and although this dramatic ploy is no doubt intentional, it makes for a rather unwieldy (and overlong) odyssey.

It begins in the fall of 2003, when Mark, having just been dumped by his girlfriend and licking his wounds, retreats to his Harvard dormitory and hacks into the university's computers to create the site Facemash – a database of all the women on campus. Photos are lined up two at a time and users are asked to choose who is "hotter." The site is instantly so popular that Harvard's entire system crashes.

From these unseemly beginnings is born what eventually becomes Facebook, which quickly spreads beyond Harvard to become a global phenomenon. Along the way, Mark, who drops out of college after his sophomore year to run the business from Palo Alto , Calif. , inevitably runs a gantlet of accusations and recriminations.

He alienates his closest friend and Facebook's cofounder, Eduardo Saverin ( Andrew Garfield ), who sues him, and is likewise sued by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss , identical twin Harvard BMOCs who, with a whiff of WASP-ish disdain, claim Mark stole their idea. (In an amazing feat of filmic prestidigitation, Armie Hammer , with the assistance of Josh Pence as a body double, plays both brothers.) He also attracts the attentions of Napster founder Sean Parker ( Justin Timberlake ), who functions for Mark as a cross between Svengali and Eddie Haskell .

Fincher periodically intercuts his straightforward chronology with deposition scenes involving Mark and both Eduardo and the Winklevosses. In flashback, he presents " Rashomon "-style versions of what really happened and leaves it up to us to sort out the truth, or truthiness, of the claims.

From a legal standpoint, this is probably the only way that the filmmakers could have told this story without getting sued by everybody under the sun, but it also conveniently absolves them from taking a stand on the Facebook hoo-ha one way or the other. Since Mark is presented as a human cipher anyway, the deliberate ambiguity of the flashbacks registers as just one more blur in a fuzzy landscape.

The filmmakers trumpet the irony that an essentially friendless dweeb – the "Mark Zuckerberg" they created for this movie – founded the world's preeminent aggregator of friends (or, to be more exact, "friends"). But why is this such a surprise? If Mark had a raft of real friends he probably would not have felt the need (or had the time) to create a social-network engine. The virtuality of his life gave rise to the reality of Facebook.

Despite the whiz-bang topicality, the headlong intelligence, and the many sharp collegiate scenes – a testy meeting between the Winklevoss twins and Harvard president Lawrence Summers ( Douglas Urbanski ) is a classic – this new-style movie hews pretty closely to an old-style playbook. The filmmakers have talked it up as a classic story of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and jealousy, but, with the exception of Eduardo, the cast of characters – beginning with Mark – are all aggressively one-dimensional. I scrutinized their scrimmages rather than becoming emotionally invested in them.

The filmmakers were probably thinking of Orson Welles 's Charles Foster Kane when they created their own soulless mogul. They even provide Mark with his own version of "Rosebud," the key that supposedly unlocks his psyche. Mark, it seems, created Facebook to get back at a girl he still pines for in the end. This faux Freudian soppiness is a disservice to Mark's rapacity, but still it gave me pause: How many other jilted geniuses are out there poised to unleash their newfangled networking whammies on us? Grade: B+ ( Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and language.)

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movie review the social network

The Social Network (2010): Film Review

  • Joshua Stevens
  • March 19, 2023

movie review the social network

The Social Network explores the origins Facebook and examines its founder, and remains a defining David Fincher film due to its direction, script, and score.

The Social Network accomplishes the near-impossible feat of defining both past and future generations . This David Fincher outing encapsulated the decade leading up to its release in 2010, while also serving as a warning for the decade that would follow. The message of how social media can be used to the detriment of others shines through the film’s direction, script, and music . This specific message about the potentially negative consequences of social media pinpoints the movie’s more universal themes: connection and isolation.

The drama follows young Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), beginning with his time as a student at Harvard. Over the course of the movie, Zuckerberg and friend Eduardo Saverin (an excellent Andrew Garfield) develop what would become Facebook, the most famous social media platform in the world. The film also sees Zuckerberg in the midst of two lawsuits , one from the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer), who claim Zuckerberg stole the idea of Facebook from them, and one from Saverin himself, who feels his former best friend had betrayed him.

David Fincher’s usual genre explorations made him a somewhat odd pick to direct The Social Network. Coming off projects like Se7en (1995) , Fight Club (1999), and Zodiac (2007), Fincher was able to channel the dark energy from those projects and apply it to the story of Facebook’s founding. Fans have come to expect certain traits when viewing a Fincher film, including a thematic exploration of the human psyche . Here, he combines those explorations with the role technology has played, and will continue to play, in society. He utilizes a non-linear structure to examine Zuckerberg’s rise to prominence, his flaws, and his virtues.

The film, based on 2009 book “The Accidental Billionaires”by Ben Mezrich (with Saverin serving as a main source), takes liberties with this true story : the real Zuckerberg took issue with the film’s depiction of himself, particularly the party scenes, while Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz has called it “a dramatization of history.” Though it may not be 100% accurate, the movie triumphs in another way: looking into the complex nature of intellectual property, friendship, and social media.

loud and clear reviews the social network review film 2010 movie fincher

The script , written by the legendary Aaron Sorkin, acts as the glue holding the entire film together. One may look no further than the opening scene between Zuckerberg and his date, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) to get a flavor for Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue and characterization. The scene, set to The White Stripes’ “Ball and Biscuit,” depicts Zuckerberg and Albright having a discussion over drinks. The conversation is fast paced, with Albright often struggling to keep up with Zuckerberg’s thought process. This leads to confusion, confrontation, and ultimately a break-up.

Sorkin’s script, in addition to driving the narrative, also serves an allegorical purpose: to showcase the confusion and confrontation that individuals may face in an online setting . He achieves this while also telling the audience something about the characters, especially Zuckerberg. The arrogance and detachment shown in this scene carries through to the end, where he sits alone at his computer screen, desperate for human interaction. There is much to dissect from this award-winning screenplay, but the core component is Sorkin’s ability to elevate this drama using clever dialogue and hidden messaging.

One overlooked aspect of The Social Network’s success lies in the film’s terrific score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross . The two men had done few scores at this point in their careers, and they were able to use their inexperience as an advantage, creating a truly unique musical sound for the film. Perhaps the most famous piece for the score is “Hand Covers Bruise,” a piece that consists mostly of a few simple piano notes, with persistent, lurking, buzzing strings sound in the background. “Hand Covers Bruise,” along with the rest of the score, accurately conveys both a need to prove oneself and a sense of profound loneliness . Zuckerberg’s loneliness is touched on throughout the entire film, and the score accurately reflects his status.

Fincher’s direction, Sorkin’s script and the musical score are just three examples of the mastery on display in The Social Network. This is a film that warrants further analysis, as the ramifications of social media have become even more clear since the movie’s release in 2010. How human beings connect, and how they can become isolated based on a variety of factors, is the key question at the heart of The Social Network. As time changes, and technology continues to evolve, these universal questions will continue to live on. This fact alone makes the film a timelessly relevant classic .

Get it on Apple TV

The Social Network is now available to watch on digital and on demand . Find out why The Social Network explores a side of college life not usually seen in movies .

movie review the social network

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  • TAGS: David Fincher , genre: biopic

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movie review the social network

The Social Network Review

Social Network, The

15 Oct 2010

120 minutes

Social Network, The

Since making his debut with the disastrous Alien 3, David Fincher has struggled to find material worthy of his indisputable technical talent. This is nothing new; after Stanley Kubrick released Barry Lyndon in 1975 his assistant recalled hearing the nightly thud of books hitting the wall, until at last there was silence: Stanley had picked up Stephen King's The Shining, and the rest, of course, was history. Like Kubrick, Fincher has dabbled in a variety of genres too, but after the mixed reception afforded Benjamin Button, a respectable but strangely lightweight Oscar bid, The Social Network seems an unusual choice, even for him. It's talky, it's dorky, there's very little action, and, in the grand scheme of things, it's almost literally yesterday's news. But it has a quiet power, and, beneath the surface, there's perhaps more going on here than immediately meets the eye.

The Social Network is, first and foremost, about a paradox. It covers the founding of Facebook, a pioneering internet tool that, while bringing the world together, drove five individuals apart, and in doing so made its instigator, 26-year-old former Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, recent history's youngest billionaire. Zuckerberg is played here by Jesse Eisenberg, who is simply superb as the conflicted genius, an emotionally isolated, social-climbing outsider with an unpredictable set of motivations and allegiances. Zuckerberg sets up his groundbreaking website for a number of reasons, partly out of spite, partly out of competition and partly because it's “cool”. But not, it seems, with anything as mundane, or forward-thinking, as a mission statement or a business plan.

Whether the real Zuckerberg is anything like this is another matter, and one that the filmmakers don't much care about (as a minor player says at the end, every creation story needs a demon). But if Zuckerberg is the moustache-twirling villain of this piece, the equally 'real' characters around him function with a similar degree of shorthand. Primarily, there is Andrew Garfield as the fresh-faced Eduardo Saverin, who is Zuckerberg's best friend at Harvard. Saverin gives Zuckerberg the money to start the operation, a loan of £1,000, but as the Facebook project grows, Saverin gets increasingly ostracised by his one-time best bud. In the meantime, also on Zuckerberg's elbow list are the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence). The twins are star Harvard rowers who employ Zuckerberg to help them develop their own website, but instead of doing what's asked of him, he leads them a merry dance, apparently stalling their project to give himself time to advance his own.

Into this maelstrom of conflict steps Napster founder Sean Parker, played with seductive relish by Justin Timberlake as a louche libertarian who appeals to all of Zuckerberg's most reckless instincts. Parker is presented as the catalyst that turns Zuckerberg from amateur to pro, which he does, over cocktails, with a single anecdote: the sad story of Roy Raymond, the bankrupt 47-year-old founder of Victoria's Secret who committed suicide in 1993 after the company he sold for $4m became a billion-dollar business. Zuckerberg seems to be drinking this in, or as much as he ever seems to be drinking anything in. In fact, part of the fun of Eisenberg's performance is that he never gives anything away, which works nicely alongside the wistful Garfield and Machiavellian Timberlake.

The Social Network's plus points are immediately visible, notably in a long pre-credits scene that sees Zuckerberg in a bar with his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara): Aaron Sorkin's rat-a-tat dialogue is established right there, and it never lets up. Likewise, Fincher's direction – comparatively restrained, except for an exhilarating, kinetic rowing sequence at the Henley Regatta – mostly aims for clarity and tight control. His colour palette is vital to this, being warm, sunny at times and even cosy in darkness, which comes in handy when zig-zagging between two potentially confusing timelines and two distinct court cases. The film's flaws, however, take a little longer to reveal themselves. For one thing, there isn't really that much to invest in; although Fincher gives it the adult veneer of a modern-day All The President's Men, the stakes aren't that high. This is a story in the public domain that's not about the public domain: its key players come from a rarefied world (indeed, the very first incarnation of Facebook, ironically enough, was deliberately exclusive and only available to subscribers with a Harvard email address). There's also the fact that Eisenberg, having dominated the first hour, suddenly steps back to make way for Garfield, and his presence is much missed.

That there's not a vast amount really going on here is beyond dispute, since there are no deaths or murders (so far) in this case, and not only are Zuckerberg's legal woes well documented, they barely add up to a paragraph on his rather skimpy Wikipedia page. So what would attract Sorkin and Fincher, 49 and 48 respectively, to such a slight story? The feeling that leaves the cinema with you is that The Social Network is intended as a portrait of the times, and its understatement is deliberate. Just 20 years ago, Wall Street was doing the same thing but bigger, with giant egos and huge deals. Now, although the payday-potential is even higher, the politics are those of the sandpit not the boardroom. Zuckerberg wants to be special, the centre of attention. Saverin is peeved that his best friend has a new best friend, and won't play with him any more. Meanwhile, the Winklevosses are stamping their feet because can't get a break: why, just because they're rich, they're handsome and they're excellent sportsmen, can't they be smart too? (Fincher has a lot of fun with that.)

It's hard to say how Fincher's film will be received today; indeed, Sorkin's last script, the concise and insightful Charlie Wilson's War still hasn't had its due, and in the UK, The Social Network's allusions to the social hierarchies within the US college system may not strike home. But it does have some interesting things to say, not just about the astonishing power that young people wield in the computer age (remember the line in In The Loop: “You know they're all kids in Washington. It's like Bugsy Malone, but with real guns”) but about the perspective that comes with youth.

The Social Network might even be a black comedy about that; Zuckerberg is obsessed with being cool, popular, first, but is he doing a good thing, and what about the social repercussions of his invention, which has since spread to every corner of the globe? Is he a crook? A rip-off artist? An arch manipulator? Fincher and Sorkin never close the book on any of these allegations, but they don't really need to because, in their version of the story, it doesn't matter. The closing song says it all: The Beatles' Baby You're A Rich Man, which asks the question, “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?” Zuckerberg doesn't know. But then, as the film slyly suggests, why would he? He's from a logged-in, left-out generation that knows little of beauty and even less of feeling.

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Movie review: the social network, movie review: 30 minutes or less.

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movie review the social network

The Social Network

Directed by David Fincher Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg Rooney Mara as Erica Albright Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin

Movie Still: The Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Social Network [Photo By: Merrick Morton]

Who would’ve thought a biopic about the creator of Facebook could be so much fun to watch? Fincher’s newest film features adept writing, nuanced performances, and breakneck pacing.

Anyone who’s ever read the fine print on Facebook’s privacy settings will recognize the site’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, in this weekend’s opener The Social Network . The sneaky way he deftly dodges answering incriminating questions will be familiar to anyone who has felt violated by a sudden and unexpected change in privacy settings or sensed something sinister in the fallacious use of the phrase “Facebook lets you control.” The American public loves to watch its idols tumble from their pedestals, and biopics have long focused on fame, fortune, glory, and crime. The Social Network is about all those things, but Zuckerberg is more infamous than famous — definitely heavy on the fortune and light on the glory. While at Harvard, he and a select few friends and hangers-on created Facebook, which is arguably the most popular website on the internet today. The Social Network posits that Facebook wasn’t founded by a greedy little smart kid; it was created by a nerd with a ten-ton chip on his shoulder. What makes any of this interesting and why should you see it? The Social Network isn’t just a bunch of nerds overdosing on caffeine, writing code in dark Harvard dorm rooms. It’s a whole new kind of American success story.

The Social Network opens on Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) sitting across from his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) at The Thirsty Scholar in Boston, exchanging fast-paced dialogue that explains his character in the first five minutes. He brings up his 1600 SAT score, his obsession with Harvard’s final clubs, betrays his jealousy of the “world-class athletes” who row crew, and condescendingly tells Erica that she doesn’t have to study because she goes to BU. As Erica leaves, she predicts his success as “some kind of computer person,” then delivers the line that sets up the entire movie: “You’ll think everyone hates you because you’re a nerd, but it’ll be because you’re an asshole.” The Social Network would have us believe Zuckerberg created Facebook out of resentment toward women, toward athletes, toward elitist Harvard bluebloods. Fortunately, writer Aaron Sorkin balances on a delicate tightrope—one misstep and The Social Network ’s version of Zuckerberg could’ve been a misunderstood, sympathetic genius, or a complete jackass. As written by Sorkin and played by Eisenberg, Zuckerberg is an ineffectual smart kid you’d love to hate if only you didn’t pity him just the tiniest bit.

The Social Network is framed around a series of legal hearings in which Zuckerberg defends his actions against friends and colleagues. Between terse, irate exchanges in boardrooms where a court stenographer types incessantly, flashbacks take us deep within the exclusive, ivy-swathed walls of early 2000s Harvard University, where Zuckerberg and his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) gave birth to Facebook. After his breakup with Erica, Zuckerberg takes to LiveJournal to insult her, then creates a website where Harvard men can rate the attractiveness of Harvard women. Yes, that’s the kind of man who created Facebook. After his site draws 22,000 views in two hours, he has the attention of Harvard’s administration and all of campus. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (twins played by Ken doll lookalike Armie Hammer), who row crew and belong to the most elite Harvard clubs, and their business partner Divya Nurendra (Max Minghella), approach Zuckerberg to create a Harvard matchmaking site. Zuckerberg gives them (and Harvard) the metaphorical finger while he strings them along, all the while creating Facebook with Saverin.

Those of us who grew up right alongside the internet will recognize the LiveJournal login screen, get nostalgic at the mention of dinosaurs Friendster and MySpace, and be infinitely aware of the Napster illegal downloading lawsuits. So it’s unsurprising when Napster creator and world-class wild card Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) seeks out Zuckerberg, seizing the opportunity to jump aboard a lifeboat as Napster sank beneath him. Those of us who paid attention will also remember when Facebook was (apparently Parker advised Zuckerberg to take off the “the”), and when it was unavailable to anyone outside the Ivies. Zuckerberg, whose resentment toward the clubs into which he’d never gain admission ran deeper than anyone could’ve known, wanted to create his own exclusive club, one he could preside over like a king. He succeeded, but at what price?

Jesse Eisenberg, whose filmography is nothing short of impressive, plays Zuckerberg as an egocentric, resentful genius who’s repulsive but somehow sympathetic. Little-known Brit actor Andrew Garfield, in a nuanced and smart performance, falls into step as the infinitely kind Saverin. Justin Timberlake, whose acting career outside of SNL has been hit-or-miss, plays Sean Parker as a paranoid smooth operator who only wants to have fun at everyone else’s expense. By all indications, The Social Network should have been a boring, made-for-TV biopic, but in the hands of Fincher and editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, the film moves at a breakneck pace. Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth utilizes dynamic camerawork and tilt-shift photography to make the movie visually captivating. Trent Reznor’s throbbing score imbues the film with energy, though the music is sometimes distracting. Writer Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) may see an Oscar nod this year for his adroitly paced, witty dialogue. Hearing these characters speak is sometimes like listening to another language entirely, but you can’t stop paying attention. A biographical feature about computer nerds has no right to be so exciting, but in the adept hands of Fincher, Sorkin, Eisenberg, and Garfield, it’s one of the year’s smartest films.

The Social Network Trailer

Julia Rhodes

Julia Rhodes graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Communication and Culture. She’s always been passionate about movies and media, and is particularly fond of horror and feminist film theory, but has a soft spot for teen romances and black comedies. She also loves animals and vegetarian cooking; who says horror geeks aren’t compassionate and gentle? Bank Routing Numbers

movie review the social network

Julia Rhodes graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Communication and Culture. She's always been passionate about movies and media, and is particularly fond of horror and feminist film theory, but has a soft spot for teen romances and black comedies. She also loves animals and vegetarian cooking; who says horror geeks aren't compassionate and gentle? Bank Routing Numbers

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Search Help Home > Movies > The Social Network


The Social Network

Comedy, Drama

Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán Chaffin


Columbia Pictures

Release Date

Oct 1, 2010

Release Notes

Official website.


David Fincher’s business saga The Social Network is a Make Your Own Zeitgeist picture. Its protagonist, Facebook creator and world’s youngest billionaire Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), is either an emotionally dysfunctional monster incapable of maintaining a friendship—making his invention of a tool to facilitate friendship too-too ironic, and that tool itself deeply suspect—or the guy you really, really wish you were, no matter how twisted and reviled he may be.

Fincher has likened The Social Network ’s emotional trajectory to Citizen Kane ’s, in that its protagonist becomes simultaneously more successful and more friendless. But Fincher’s direction is so cool and depersonalizing that the story has no emotional heft. Zuckerberg’s Wasp adversaries are cartoon boobs. More than once, the camera scrutinizes young women from behind, appraising them as the movie’s horny young voyeurs do. The Trent Reznor–Atticus Ross score is in some Eno-airport no-man’s-land of its own. Everything is disconnected from the get-go—there’s no humanity to lose.

Eisenberg has been, until now, a hugely likable actor with an instinct for thinking and fumbling in character. As Zuckerberg, he’s been whipped into monotony. Fincher directs like a drill sergeant—Mamet with an overwound metronome. The only actor here allowed to give a fully rounded performance is Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder Sean Parker, whose sleazy hustle turns out to be just what the burgeoning Facebook needs. Fincher does get the details, though: the ubiquitous energy drinks that seem to fuel the movie’s hyped-up, jittery pacing; the programmers in headphones, deep in their antisocial trances, writing code to connect us all; the oak-and-crimson Harvard vibe, illuminating the ties between arrogant undergraduate high jinks and arrogant alumni high jinks. (Harvard president and Inside Job villain Larry Summers is played, with peerless superciliousness, by Douglas Urbanski.)

What The Social Network isn’t about is, well, the social network—i.e., Facebook, and what it means for the culture. The real Zuckerberg may have a dismaying unconcern for privacy, but from the start he had a vision that Facebook would help create communities in an ever-insular world. The movie’s final image—Zuckerberg “friending” the woman who dumped him and endlessly refreshing the page to see if she accepts—is presented as pathetic irony. But you could also read it as a sign of hope. In the Facebook world, which is now ours, a new communication infrastructure exists, with no avenues definitively closed. — David Edelstein

Related Stories

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  • David Edelstein's Full Review (10/11/10)

Featured In

  • Is Aaron Sorkin's 'The Social Network' the Scathing Portrait of Mark Zuckerberg That Facebook Fears? (9/27/10)

The Social Network screenwriter is working on a new "adjacent" screenplay about Facebook and January 6

"I blame Facebook for January 6"

movie review the social network

The Social Network screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is working on a new screenplay about Facebook – and why it's to blame for the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

"I’ll be writing about this," Sorkin told The Town podcast (via The Hollywood Reporter ). "I blame Facebook for January 6," adding that "you’re going to need to buy a movie ticket" to find out why.

When asked if that meant he was writing the idea specifically as a movie, Sorkin replied, "I’m trying. Facebook has been, among other things, tuning its algorithm to promote the most divisive material possible. Because that is what will increase engagement. That is what will get you to – what they call inside the hallways of Facebook – 'the infinite scroll'... There’s supposed to be a constant tension at Facebook between growth and integrity. There isn’t. There’s just growth."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, sources close to Sorkin have confirmed that he's working on a "Social Network-adjacent screenplay," but that it's still in the early stages and no studio is attached yet. Sorkin was previously reported to be working on another January 6-related script, but that project is no longer moving forward. 

The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, was released in 2010. It starred Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin and followed their journey to founding the social media company. The film was nominated for eight Oscars and Sorkin won Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Along with The Social Network, Sorkin is best known for creating The West Wing and writing movies like A Few Good Men, Moneyball , and Steve Jobs . He made his directorial debut in 2017 with Molly's Game and has since directed The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Being the Ricardos.

While we wait for more updates on Sorkin's next Facebook movie, check out our guide to the best upcoming movies on the way in 2024 and beyond.

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movie review the social network

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Aaron Sorkin Is Writing Some Kind of ‘Social Network’ Sequel Because ‘I Blame Facebook For January 6’ Riot at the U.S. Capitol

By Zack Sharf

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THE SOCIAL NETWORK, Jesse Eisenberg, 2010. ph: Merrick Morton/©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Aaron Sorkin confirmed during a live recording of “The Town” podcast that he is currently working on some kind of sequel to “ The Social Network ,” David Fincher’s acclaimed 2010 drama about the creation of Facebook that won Sorkin the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

“Look, yeah, I’ll be writing about this,” Sorkin said about the social media company’s recent years. “I blame Facebook for January 6.”

Sorkin would not answer why he blamed Facebook for Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol, but he teased: “You’re going to need to buy a movie ticket.”

Popular on Variety

Sorkin added, “If Mark Zuckerberg woke up tomorrow morning and realized there is nothing you can buy for $120 billion that you can’t buy for $119 billion dollars, ‘So how about if I make a little bit less money? I will tune up integrity and tune down growth.’ Yes, you can do that by honestly switching a one to a zero and a zero to a one.”

Whatever Sorkin is cooking up sounds more like a spiritual successor to “The Social Network” than a direct sequel. The 2010 film starred Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and was a critical darling (it earned eight Oscar nominations, including best picture) and a box office hit with $224 million at the worldwide box office. Quentin Tarantino even named it the best film of the 2010s.

Sorkin first floated the idea of penning a sequel to “The Social Network” in 2021 when he said that “what has been going on with Facebook these last few years is a story very much worth telling, and there is a way to tell it as a follow up to ‘The Social Network,’ and that’s as much as I know.” But he had also once said on the  “Happy Sad Confused” podcast  that the only way a sequel to the movie would move forward is if David Fincher agrees to direct it.

As for Eisenberg, who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Zuckerberg, he’s long expressed an openness to reprising the role in a potential “Social Network” sequel.

“Oh, yeah,” he once said. “To play a good role in a popular thing is very rare. This was an opportunity to play a complicated character that you’d normally play onstage or an art film, but on a big scale. For me, that was incredibly fortunate.”

Listen to Sorkin’s full appearance on “The Town” podcast here .

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movie review the social network

Aaron Sorkin Writing a Potential ‘Social Network' Sequel: "I Blame Facebook for Jan. 6"

Aaron Sorkin is writing a new movie that could serve as a sequel to The Social Network .

The Oscar-winning screenwriter broke the news when he was asked during a live-from-D.C. edition of The Town podcast about how Facebook and social media have influenced democracy in the years since his 2010 hit.

"Look, yeah, I'll be writing about this," Sorkin told Matthew Belloni and Peter Hamby, after glancing at his publicist for "permission" to talk about the project. "I blame Facebook for January 6."

When asked why he blames a social media company for a pro-Donald Trump mob storming the U.S. Capitol, Sorkin replied, "You're going to need to buy a movie ticket."

Pressed if that means he's writing this idea specifically as a movie, Sorkin replied, "I'm trying. Facebook has been, among other things, tuning its algorithm to promote the most divisive material possible. Because that is what will increase engagement. That is what will get you to - what they call inside the hallways of Facebook - ‘the infinite scroll' … There's supposed to be a constant tension at Facebook between growth and integrity. There isn't. There's just growth. If Mark Zuckerberg woke up tomorrow morning and realized there is nothing you can buy for $120 billion that you can't buy for $119 billion dollars, ‘So how about if I make a little bit less money? I will tune up integrity and tune down growth.' Yes, you can do that by switching a one to a zero."

Sources close to Sorkin confirmed Friday that the writer is working on a Social Network -adjacent screenplay, but emphasized the project was early days and there was no studio partner as of yet.

Sorkin was previously working on a Jan. 6 script that ultimately did not move forward. It's unclear if elements from that effort will find their way into the new script.

Sorkin has previously stated he hoped to eventually write a Social Network sequel about "the dark side" of Facebook, especially if David Fincher would return to direct. "I think what has been going on with Facebook these last few years is a story very much worth telling, and there is a way to tell it as a follow up to  The Social Network , and that's as much as I know," he told THR in 2021. And in 2020, Sorkin told the Happy Sad Confused podcast: "People have been talking to me about [a sequel] because of what we've discovered is the dark side of Facebook. Do I want to write that movie? Yeah I do. I will only write it if [David Fincher] directs it. If Billy Wilder came back from the grave and said he wanted to direct it, I'd say I'd only do it with David."

During The Town podcast, Sorkin was also asked The West Wing could still work as a television show today.

"The show premiered in 1999 and so much of the mail that we got would begin with, ‘I'm a Republican and I don't agree with the political positions that your characters take,' but what they appreciated was [the characters'] sense of patriotism, the sense of commitment," he said. "The show romanticized public service … I don't know that in today's climate, you would get the ‘I'm a Republican but.' I think that they would likely see everything as an attack on what was happening right now."

Sorkin also warned about that Palestine protesters at the Democratic National Convention in August might lead to the re-election of Trump.

"I hope that students - people who are planning on demonstrating there, and I'm all for demonstrating- I hope they remember that Nixon barely beat Humphrey in 1968, and its very likely the sight of riots at the [DNC convention], turned some people off from Democrats. I hope people especially remember that as complicated and important as the war in Gaza is, this is an election about Trump vs. not-Trump and there is an existential choice there."

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Aaron Sorkin Writing a Potential ‘Social Network' Sequel: "I Blame Facebook for Jan. 6"

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