Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Social Network

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 4th October, 2010 (USA)
Time : 121 minutes
Director : David Fincher; Writers : Aaron Sorkin, Ben Mezrich (based on his novel, ‘The Accidental Billionaires’); Music : Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Starring : Jesse Eisenberg, Rooney Mara, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Josh Pence, Justin Timberlake

How would you like to be the world’s youngest billionaire, one of the coolest internet entrepreneurs but totally without friends and a reputation of being an asshole ?

In quite an amazing behind the scenes look at the man behind 38.5% of my personal internet browsing time, we see how Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook (yes, yes, we all know it started as just a way for geeky Harvard types to connect with each other…but this goes into a bit more detail than that).

Mark is a geek. His social graces and knowledge of what to say or more importantly not say become painfully aware to us and his girlfriend, Erica, in a rapid-fire conversation occupying the opening few minutes. Mark’s angst at Erica then leads to Facemash, one of his first few internet inventions. Its so popular that it causes the Harvard server to crash. At the resultant hearing, an irritatingly smug Mark, instead of being contrite before the board, tells them they should be thanking him for exposing the weak security behind the server. The tone is then truly set for what follows…

Other key characters are Eduardo, a really nice, well meaning guy, no slouch himself on the net (gives Mark the algorithm that makes Facemash work) and is the co-founder and CFO of Or so he thinks. Sean Parker, inventor of Napster, golden boy with the golden curls, based in the land of the Golden Gate, is also an important player. He removes the ‘the’ from and also some other things / people. For a period he has Mark eating out of his hand. And there are the Winklevoss twins. Also from Harvard. Olympic rowers. And the guys who came up with the idea of a place for Harvard people to connect.

It’s a fascinating film with several layers. Its great to know how facebook came to be what it is, the story behind some of the features (relationship status, for example, including a place where it comes to bite one of the inventors). Its also interesting to see the dynamics behind some of the lead characters and how they are cast. Mark is cast as a smart guy but a prick. Shaun is made into a playboy but a little sleazy. Eduardo is a genuinely nice guy but perhaps out of his depth (FB may not have become what it is if he’d had his way). And the Winklevoss twins are as uppercrust, rich blue-blooded Americans as is possible, seeking a meeting with the President of Harvard accusing Mark of stealing their idea and where it was reassuring to see bureaucracy being the same in American educational institutions as in ours.

Another layer which was fascinating were some of the business calls being made. What was the philosophy behind FB ? Would you have expanded it the same way (via educational institutions)? When would you have introduced advertising ? An interesting case study by itself.

Quite incisive without quite trying too hard, gripping (great editing in terms of the flashbacks – hard to follow at first but excellent when you get the hang of things), nice choice in terms of the subject matter chosen (can imagine another film on Zuckerberg dealing with entirely different aspects of him / FB) and quite simply superlative casting make this a great watch. Cant wait to see it again !

PS : Loved the Tagline….

1 comment:

Raghav said...

Nice review. What I do not get is why people have a single view towards Mark (PS I DO NOT work for Facebook). Yes he might have done a few things on his way up that border on ethicality, but so has everyone. Sean Parker to me came across as more of a prick than Mark. Mark is more motivated by Facebook. To him it's the one and anyone messing with Facebook (his baby is we can say so) gets to hit the dirt. Edvardo froze the bank accounts, Sean's lifestyle etc etc. What I saw in the movie was that if it was upto him he would have liked to have friends and business partners as separate, but realised that you can't have that. You get rid of your business partner, you get rid of your friend as well. Also I believe a lot of the stuff that the book The Accidental Billionairs is based on is from Edvardo's side, as he was a primary source for the writed Ben Mezrich. So that should also be kept in mind while watching the film. If you have time you can read my review on