Tom from MySpace complains, “Where’s my effing movie?!?”
If The Social Network is anything, it’s a showcase for performance. Outside of Jesse Eisenberg, I hadn’t really seen any of the peeps in this movie do anything, but everybody delivers a great performance: Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Erica Albright… very impressive cast. The dialogue was really snappy, but then, what else would you expect form Aaron Sorkin?
It’s hard to know what to say about this movie – it’s a really good movie, that much is clear – and when a movie is based on fact and isn’t necessarily a work of fiction, this can make it difficult to create the sort of drama that I expect in terms of an overall arc.
The movie doesn’t offer much in the way of a conclusion… consider: The movie is a story about Mark Zuckerberg, and we meet him when his girlfriend is breaking up with him, so he events a website that ranks girls against each other (and farm animals?) and everyone is mad at him. Seems like he’s in a bad situation. Then he meets Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss (twins played by Armie Hammer – everybody who made this happen did a great job, by the way) who were impressed by Zuckerberg’s website and want him to program their idea for a social networking site… I think it’s called Harvard Connection or something like that. Zuckerberg’s character asks them what makes this different than MySpace or Friendster or any of it’s competitors (which I think is a great point about Facebook itself, but I’ll get back to that later), and the idea is exclusivity – you must have a Harvard email address to join. Zuckerberg agrees to create the site, but doesn’t. He spends his time creating his own social networking site and sends the Winklevosses (Winklevi?) endless emails that he’s too busy to meet with them to work on their site. Finally, when he is inspired to add a relationship status feature, he puts his own site, TheFacebook.com live. Obviously, the Winklevosses find out about TheFacebook when it’s all the rage on Harvard’s campus and in the student newspaper (The Crimson) and they are mad and send a cease and desist letter, which Zuckerberg ignores and Eduardo freaks out, and things seem bad…
(I just need to stop for a moment and talk about how adding the relationship status is supposed to be an epiphany moment for Mark’s character – it’s kind of silly. Like ‘relationship status’ is one of the great ideas of the twenty-first century or something.)
I have no intention of summarizing the entire movie, but what I’m trying to say here (admittedly, I’m not doing a good job) is that the characters always seem to be a bad place. As I mentioned in my drama post, the main character should have a conflict that drives the story and introduces all of the characters (act 1), he gets into the worst possible situation (act 2) and then he gets out (act 3). The problem is, the Zuckerburg character never really gets out of his bad situation – at least not in a satisfying way. Let’s break it down:
- ACT 1: Mark’s girlfriend breaks up with him and he creates Facebook, but the movie is moving back and forth through time, so we’re all seeing the deliberations of the big law suit – so it’s also sort of act 2.
- ACT 2: Facebook is blowing up into a phenomenon on college campuses, but Sean Parker gets arrested and embarrasses the company, and embarrassing the company seems to be something that Mark desperately wants to avoid.
- ACT 3: Some text books comes up on the screen and tells the results of the lawsuit. Mark sends a friend request to the girl that dumped him at the beginning of the movie and waits to see if she accepts it.
This isn’t what I’d call a satisfying third act for the audience, but that’s how the movie ends. Now if this is how the story really goes, the film makers are constrained by the real life narrative, and that’s cool. In any case, it’s still an OK movie: good dialogue, better performances, just not a great ending…. OK, maybe it’s a little pretentious, but it’s worth a watch.