Tuesday, November 24, 2020

THE UNSOCIABLE MR. Z

 

 

In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg a Harvard sophomore “invented” Facebook. Over the years, young Mr. Zuckerberg (he’s now only 26) became the world’s youngest billionaire – although he insists that what he does has nothing to do with making money. In any event, the intervening period between then and now has been filled with wheeling, dealing and alleged double-dealing.

Enter Aaron Sorkin of “West Wing” fame. Mr. Sorkin has taken the Facebook saga and written a tight, entertaining and thought-provoking screenplay. Top speed dialog, neat camerawork and excellent acting make this film, “The Social Network”, far more than the Facebook story. It’s the tale of a young wizard who dedicates himself to his Facebook project at the cost of alienating friends and strangers alike.

Facebook today has more than five hundred million users, known as “friends”. Paradoxically, the movie shows its creator as completely friendless, although he seems to be reaching out from time-to-time, only to retreat. As played beautifully by Jesse Eisenberg, Zuckerberg is brilliant, thoughtless, egotistical, virtually bereft of human understanding and obsessed by the need for recognition. He’s not shallow by any means. He’s a complex, bold, and puzzling perfectionist. It appears over and over again that he’s seeking some vestige of human friendship and integrity, but somehow it all seems to vanish with his obsessions.

He alienates those who stood by him, including his closest friend and fellow Harvard student Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who stayed with Zuckerberg until it became impossible to go on any longer. Zuckerberg’s nearest thing to a “girl friend” (Rooney Mara) devastatingly dismisses him, and the Winklevoss twins (both played by Arnie Hammer thanks to digitalization), exemplars of old time gentlemanly behavior, wind up suing him – along with a number of others aggrieved by Zuckerberg. There’s undoubtedly poetic license in the movie. Some of the lawsuits have been settled, others are still pending.

Justin Timberlake plays Sean Parker, a character who coddles Zuckerberg with everything from gals to grams of cocaine.

As entertainment, relating the essence of a true story, it is crisp (the dialog moves so fast in parts that the audience has to stay right on top); the acting is superb, and the essential tale of human relationships – or the lack thereof – is well treated.

By way of footnote, in real life Zuckerberg recently donated one hundred million dollars to the public schools of Newark, New Jersey. Apparently he had to be persuaded to reveal that he was the contributor, rather than remaining anonymous.

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