[I wrote this post in 2010, a few days after The Social Network was released. Today, in November 2016, I’m revisiting it because I’m currently teaching the film to my high school students, and because I wanted to find a way back to blogging after another long hiatus. Here, you will find the original review, and below it, some notes on my more recent viewing.]
Review from 10th October 2010:
The big question is “what will Mark Zuckerberg think of The Social Network?” Will he like what is being said about him at the multiplex, which, because it amplifies and magnifies everything in surround sound and Massive-o-Vision, is the most public and uncouth forum for telling an intimate story about private enmities. There’s a definite hint of schadenfreude in the film’s purported laying bare of Zuckerberg’s social ineptitude, his near-autistic inability to engage with friends in ways they can relate and warm to – so the man who made a career out of commoditising other people’s private lives in ways they were ill-prepared to comprehend doesn’t like the way he’s talking about in the pop-cultural echo-chamber? Poor lamb.
Actually, the film is stacked in his favour, with only Eduardo Saverin (played by the eminently sympathetic future Spider-Man) coming off better: Zuckerberg is not friendly, despite his fame arising from his packaging of friendship, but he is preternaturally witty in his defensive verbal quips, outsmarting the more socially and professionally advantaged around him. His accusers, with the exception of Saverin, while not villainised, are emphatically portrayed as the kind of privileged elite we usually find putting nerds in headlocks in movies set at college. His is an automatic underdog story, and you can’t help following the script and feeling for the guy. What does Zuckerberg think of it? Well, according to Aaron Sorkin, the film’s writer, he “really liked the parts he agreed with.”