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Review

Reviewers have high remarks for film about Facebook’s origin

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October 7, 2010

What is it that drives people to do what they do? Why does anybody do anything? Too often do movies of the same ilk as “The Social Network” try to attract an audience with the promise of showcasing an unlikely rise to power. Usually to have the protagonist become drunk with said power, alienates his true friends, and wind up in the gutter or worse after he/she becomes too greedy and the whole world implodes in on them.

This is pretty much what I was expecting from “The Social Network” but in the form of a two hour Facebook commercial.

For the first few minutes or so this seemed like it was indeed the case; though the very first scene does turn out to be incredibly important as far as the point of the movie, as much of this time is spent explaining the actual invention of “The Facebook.” I was also a bit turned off by a first impression that Jesse Eisenberg (in the lead as Mark Zuckerberg) was simply rehashing his standby, quick-witted, I’m right, you’re wrong, socially-inept character, but in the end, I think it was Eisenberg’s performance that really pulled the whole thing together.

The film follows the true (-ish?) tale of Zuckerberg and begins with his drunken hack into Harvard’s online student registry.

He programs a face comparison website from his dorm room as payback for being dumped by his girlfriend (Rooney Mara). The website subsequently has 22,000 (not 2,200) hits that same night, which catches the eye of a trio of would be dotcom entrepreneurs who approach Mark with an offer to help them create a new type of online social network.

And the rest (how many times have you logged on today?) is history.

The movie continues on to follow Zuckerberg’s path from rejected computer nerd to the youngest billionaire in history, and delivers with all the power-hungry, Scarface-esque, Justin Timberlake-ey over-indulgence that seems to plague 20-something, over-night successes.

But what really started to stand out to me was the question of Zuckerberg’s motivation.

He is portrayed in the film as a whip-smart, socially-rejected-and-bitter-about-it college kid/programming genius who comes off as incredibly unlikeable in the first part of the film.

What’s interesting about the progression of the story is that while everyone around him goes all Gollum-Smeagol for the money and lifestyle that Facebook seems capable of generating for them, Mark seems totally unphased by what is shaping up to be a “billion dollar idea.”

While he is totally absorbed with making Facebook as big and successful as possible, he never indulges in any of the crazy care-free antics his associates do, is too shy to approach an intern he’s attracted to (who he meets in the new Facebook World Headquarters, of which he is the CEO for God’s sake…)and never even changes out of his North Face zip-up the entire movie.

So if it’s not for the money, or the power, or the women or the lifestyle, why is this kid so hell-bent on making his idea the biggest thing the world has ever seen? Which brings me back to my original two questions.

“The Social Network” is a film about the different things that can spur people to completely disregard what most believe (and they themselves set) to be the limits of their potential as members of humanity.

Money, power, sex; all these tangibles are manifestations of the indefinable things that really drive people to make the choices they make, and The Social Network peels back the surface of one of the greatest success stories in history in order to show us what we have in common with even mythically successful people like Zuckerberg.

It’ll make you think about the biggest decisions you’ve made in your life, and maybe make you think again about what it was that really inspired them.

Anthony Orlando is a math major and physics minor. He runs for the UW-River Falls cross country team. He once met Dan Auerbach and is a minor celebrity in Malaysia.