The Social Network ★★★★

David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin make an incredible team. Fincher's keen eye to detail and his dark, digital looking color pallette complements Sorkin's signature fast paced dialogue spectacularly well in this story about internet billionaires. But this isn't just the story of Facebook. It's the story of Zuckerberg and what can happen when someone tries to overwrite human emotion with creative outlets.

To be clear, I've always viewed The Social Network as a highly fictionalized and stylized account of the legal battles that Zuckerberg faced in the early days of Facebook. I feel like that is important to note because if you view it as a docudrama, it's easy to lose sight of the themes of the story and the heart of the character of Zuckerberg. The movie depicts Zuck as an alienated genius at a time in his life where social pressures and insecurities are at their height. He gets dumped by his girlfriend for being, in her words, an asshole and goes onto to create a website that crashes Harvard's servers while he's both drunk and blogging. He does this as a means to distract himself from his breakup.

Thus begins his meteoric rise into the world's youngest billionaire. However, as he faces legal battles and feelings of jealousy and inadequacy, his drive for success is still borne from the breakup with Erica that kicked the movie off. There is a certain relatability to the character in that respect, no matter how much the movie borders on vilifying Zuckerberg, there's still that underlying heartbreak.

Why does he have such a hangup over Erica? It's because he feels she's right and she's the only person who truly calls him out for his idiosyncrasies and hubris. And he doesn't know how to process that or rectify it outside of creating a billion dollar company and hoping she takes notice. It's a patently ignorant and incorrect reaction/motivation, but it gives the character of Zuckerberg all the more range.

I love the juxtaposition of Zuckerberg's failed relationship with Erica and his failing relationship with Eduardo. The version of Eduardo depicted in the movie is one of sincerity and kindness that also comes with an awareness of Zuckerberg's social inadequacies. I think Eduardo knows it's a one-sided friendship but he still works at trying to get Zuck to show some kind of compassion. It's an interesting dynamic that's further complicated by the introduction of Sean Parker into the fold.

As Zuckerberg gets drawn into Sean's world, lifestyle, and promises of success, Eduardo feels himself being pushed away. The ensuing power struggle is the movie's biggest dramatic arc and plays out very satisfactorily.

The performances are tremendous, especially Eisenberg and Garfield. Justin Timberlake does a fantastic job as Parker as well. The Social Network is sharp, witty, and actually makes multiple deposition sequences thrilling in a way only Sorkin could pull off.