How True Is 'Social Network?' Does It Matter?

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The new movie The Social Network is about the founding of Facebook. How close is it to the truth? Who can say? It is a film, after all, not a legal document. Reviewer Kenneth Turan says what really matters is that Social Network be convincing in movie terms — and it very much is that.


And now, let's hear about another kind of social entrepreneur. The new film "The Social Network" is about how Facebook came to be. Here's our critic, Kenneth Turan.

KENNETH TURAN: Could it be that the founder of Facebook is incapable of real friendship? Could the world's youngest self-made billionaire be the loneliest guy on the planet? If that sounds like a heck of a premise, you don't know the half of it.

"The Social Network" is a barn-burner of a tale that unfolds at a blistering clip. "Social Network" opens at an undergraduate bar near the Harvard campus in the fall of 2003, with sophomore Mark Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend. Zuckerberg stomps back to his dorm and takes his revenge by creating a computer site, called Facemash, that allows people to vote on which Harvard women are the hottest.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Social Network")

Mr. ANDREW GARFIELD (Actor): (as Eduardo Saverin) Give each girl a base rating of 1,400. At any given time, Girl A has a rating R-a and Girl B has a rating R-b.

Mr. JESSE EISENBERG (Actor): (as Mark Zuckerberg) When any two girls are matched up, there's an expectation of which will win based on their current rating, right?

Mr. GARFIELD: (as Eduardo Saverin) Yeah. And those expectations are expressed this way.

Mr. EISENBERG: (as Mark Zuckerberg) Let's write it.

TURAN: "Social Network" shows us both how Facemash led to Facebook, and how the self-absorbed Zuckerberg so alienated his collaborators he ended up being sued by, among others, the irate Winklevoss twins.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Social Network")

Mr. MAX MINGHELLA (Actor): (as Divya Narendra) Getting there first is everything.

Mr. ARMIE HAMMER (Actor): (as Cameron Winklevoss) I'm a competitive racer, Div. I don't think you need to school me on the importance of getting there first. Thank you.

Mr. MINGHELLA: (as Divya Narendra) All right. That was your father's lawyer?

Mr. HAMMER: (as Cameron Winklevoss) It was his in-house counsel. He's going to look at all this and if he thinks it's appropriate, he'll send a cease-and-desist letter.

Mr. MINGHELLA: (as Divya Narendra) What's that going to do?

Mr. HAMMER: (as Cameron Winklevoss) What, do you want to hire an IP lawyer and sue him?

Mr. MINGHELLA: (as Divya Narendra) No. I want to hire the Sopranos to beat the (beep) out of him with a hammer.

Mr. HAMMER: (as Cameron Winklevoss) We don't even have to do that.

Unidentified Man: That's right.

Mr. HAMMER: (as Cameron Winklevoss) We can do that ourselves. I'm 6-5, 220 - and there's two of me.

TURAN: Aaron Sorkin writes great, crackling dialogue that conveys the dynamics of power relations. His words, especially delivered by Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg, bring so much energy to the project that resistance is futile. Plus director David Fincher knows how to present a story about intellectual property as if it was a James Bond thriller.

How close is this to the truth? Who can say? This is a film, after all, not a legal document. All that really matters about "Social Network" is that it be convincing in movie terms, and it very much is that.

Facebook may be powerful, but impressive movies have a force that cannot be denied.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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