Friday, 25 February 2011

The Social Network

Not since Closer have I seen a film with such an unpleasant cast of characters, only this time the film was worth watching.

social network The Social Network recounts the origins of Facebook and the legal wrangles over who invented and contributed to developing the social media phenomenon. The genius of Aaron Sorkin’s script and David Fincher’s direction is that such an obnoxious group of individuals could make compelling viewing. The story of Facebook is recounted in a non-linear montage of scenes mainly focusing on legal depositions between the protagonists. This could have been both confusing and boring, however, no one makes people talking at breakneck speed in small rooms more interesting than Sorkin. We are taken into the world of Facebook from three different perspectives and the ambiguities about who is telling the truth and what really went on are never resolved and the viewer is left to draw their own conclusions.

The central performances from Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg and Andrew Garfield playing his best (only) friend Eduardo Saverin are convincing and the recognition coming the way of the actors is well deserved. Justin Timberlake is impressive with his portrayal of Sean Parker, founder of Napster, and he commits wholeheartedly to making Parker as unpleasant as possible. The supporting actors are all up to the mark and Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins, who claimed Zuckerberg had stolen their idea, captures a sense of arrogant entitlement perfectly. All of this simply reinforces feelings of admiration and disgust that such a group of individuals could have made themselves so unimaginably wealthy.

At the end of a very enjoyable couple of hours I was left with one overriding thought that we forget at our peril. Everyone involved in Facebook is looking for the best way to make the product as successful and ubiquitous as possible. So those of us who complain when Facebook changes privacy settings, location information or links to other companies, products and services need to remember that these guys aren’t in it to serve our interests. Zuckerberg and co. aren’t interested in creating a social network, they are interested in making Facebook the biggest beast in the digital jungle and the message of the film is that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve that end.

Now I’m off to double check those privacy settings on my Facebook profile.

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