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Facebook film left me cold

PUBLISHED: 12:57 26 October 2010

The Social Network

The Social Network

Archant

The Social Network went down a storm with critics, but this Kentish Times reviewer couldn’t wait for the credits to roll

It is a nasty addiction which leaves you mourning the days when you would read a book before going to bed instead of trawling through your friends’ seemingly more interesting lives.

Now you can let Facebook take up another 121 minutes of your life – only this time at the cinema.

The Social Network is a cautionary tale about the Facebook’s disputed founder Mark Zuckerberg, played with a deadpan flair by Jesse Eisenberg. Disputed, because the film is intercepted with boardroom action from two recent legal wranglings.

One accusation levelled against him was that his best friend Eduardo Saverin was conned out of his the company he co-founded and another that he stole the original idea from fellow Harvard students.

The film tells us very little about Zuckerberg but we do learn that he is ruthless in business. To a certain degree.

The world of Harvard University is a stereotyped one. All dark wood panels and frat parties, where women are shipped in on coaches to entertain the men by stripping to their underwear. Unfortunately there are not really any more rounded female characters in the story, apart from in the opening scene, when Zuckerberg gets dumped by his girlfriend.

The script by Aaron Sorkin, who also penned The West Wing and A Few Good Men, clearly sees Zuckerberg as a creative genius but flawed in the fact that he cannot connect with people and someone who has a distorted sense of loyalty.

The action kicks off when Zuckerberg goes back to his room after being dumped and starts blogging about his ex-girlfriend being a bitch.

For his revenge he decides set up a site comparing female university students to animals but instead opts for comparing the women to each other and getting people to vote who on who is the hottest.

The website FaceMash was created and went live all in one Tuesday night, going viral between 2am and 5am. It got 22,000 hits in a matter of hours and crashed the Harvard system.

Despite humiliating the female population of Harvard, FaceMash earns its creator kudos which eventually leads to meetings with fellow students who want to strike internet gold.

There is an emotional vacuum to the film which can leave the viewer wanting something more and even bored, but one suspects that this is an intentional comment on the human sacrifice we make when communicating via social media.

The one emotional draw, however little, is the relationship between Zuckerberg and his best friend who later sues him, Saverin, played by the masterful Andrew Garfield.

Garlfield blew audiences away when he appeared on our television screens in Boy A where he played a character based on the James Bulger killers, with a vulnerable brilliance.

He manages to steal the show here too but that is not necessary due to the writers crafting a brilliant character but rather because the others are so two-dimensional.

Entertainment does come in the unlikely form of Justin Timberlake who is cast as the founder of Napster (the music sharing website) Sean Parker, who tries to seduce the impressionable but focused Zuckerberg, so he can get a piece of the Facebook action, after the courts have curbed his internet baby.

However, like the rest in the film, his character elicits little interest after a few scenes.

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