x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The Social Network

Facebook's founder comes under scrutiny in the hit film The Social Network.

Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello.
Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello.

The Social Network Director: David Fincher Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake

The Social Network may have been one of the most hyped-up films of 2010, but it was not without reason. And with less than a week to this year's Academy Awards - the pinnacle of the global film awards season - the director David Fincher, who has already taken home the Golden Globe and Bafta awards for best director, will be crossing his talented fingers that The Social Network does better than his previous feature, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which managed victory in only three of the 13 nominated categories at the 2009 ceremony. But, Oscar glory or not, the Fight Club director's latest offering is one of the best films to have made it on to this year's list of potential Academy Award winners.

Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, The Social Network is, depending on whether you believe the rumours or not, the true and not-so-smooth story of the creation of Facebook, the social networking site that has reportedly amassed more than 600 million unique users since it went online in 2004.

Look at the numbers - which continue to grow day by day - and it's clear that almost anyone who can call themselves computer literate will have long ago succumbed to the lures of the website, its blue-and-white logo a constant presence in many lives. But the idea of a movie - and a two-hour one at that - about the pivotal website and the young genius behind it, is not necessarily an instant sell - at least, not until it fell into the hands of Fincher and his screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin.

More so than the site itself, Fincher's movie focuses on its socially inept (oh, the irony) creator Mark Zuckerberg, as well as delving into the lawsuits that dogged him during Facebook's early years. Other important aspects of the movie are the queries it brings up that have surrounded the 26-year-old genius for the past seven years - namely, how much credit should actually go to Time magazine's 2010 Person of the Year.

Did Zuckerberg - one of the world's youngest billionaires at 26 - borrow the concept from two fellow Harvard alumni, the Winklevoss twins? What is intellectual property? And, just because someone comes up with the idea for something first, does that mean others who want to develop it further should be denied?

Unsurprisingly, the subject of The Social Network himself has publicly denounced the film, telling an audience at Stanford University last year that the movie was highly inaccurate - all apart from the filmmakers' ability to dress the actor Jesse Eisenberg in almost the exact same wardrobe that Zuckerberg himself always sports. His recent appearance on Saturday Night Live alongside Eisenberg, however, suggests he may have mellowed towards the film.

One of the main relationships explored in the movie is that between Zuckerberg and his former friend and Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, who settled a lawsuit with Zuckerberg for an undisclosed sum.

Their disintegrating friendship led to Saverin - who has since had his name reinstated on Facebook's masthead as one the co-founders - helping the author, Mezrich, with the book that gave the movie life.

There is no doubt that Eisenberg is one of the driving forces behind The Social Network's success, but it is no excuse for the shocking lack of attention that has been paid to Andrew Garfield, the actor who plays Facebook's ex-chief financial officer, Saverin. The same goes for Justin Timberlake, whose portrayal of Sean Parker, Facebook's first president, may not be accurate (Parker called the film completely fictional), but is nonetheless riveting.

The authenticity of The Social Network can be called into question, but push the truth aside, whatever it is, and there is no doubting that it's a fine film.