As directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg is a character far more compelling than his story. We meet the ungainly Harvard sophomore (Jesse Eisenberg) as he yammers away at his date about his obsession with gaining entrance into Harvard's exclusive clubs, driving the co-ed to dump him. Wounded, Zuckerberg retreats to his dorm and avenges himself by devising a website to rate all Harvard women by hotness—impressing the upper-class Winklevoss twins, who enlist Zuckerberg to create a Harvard-only social-network site. Funded by his roommate, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Zuck runs with it, and Facebook is born. The Social Network's first act is its best—a hellishly precise youth movie rattling along on a clamor of computer jargon. But once the bamboozled Winklevosses file suit, and Saverin after them, the narrative stumbles. Sorkin flashes forward to the discovery processes of both suits, which then prompt a succession of clumsy flashbacks, with Zuckerberg falling under the influence of Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), so charismatic that Fincher and Sorkin cede the film to him. As dramatized here, the story of Facebook's founding is not unlike that of any large corporation. Zuckerberg's real achievement, however, was something more mysterious; he manufactured intimacy through the creation of a parallel, personalized Internet offering an ongoing second life in a virtual gated community. True to its moment, The Social Network is less interested in mapping this new system of human interaction than psychoanalyzing it through its quintessential user: Zuckerberg.
Timberlakes charisma takes over the movie.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., Oct. 1. Rated PG-13. 120 minutes.