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Vol. LXIV, No. 40
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WAITING FOR ANOTHER STROKE OF GENIUS: Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), a seond year Harvard undergraduate, stares off into space trying to find the answer to a problem he has encountered during the development of the Facebook website. He obviously found the answer because he later successfully launched Facebook, and the rest is history.

The Social Network: Biopic Recounts the Rise of Ruthless Facebook Developer

Kam Williams

If you’re wondering what inspired camera shy Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) to make a rare public appearance on Oprah last week in order to donate $100 million to the City of Newark, you may find the answer in the movie The Social Network. This biopic portrays the reclusive Facebook founder as a ruthless fraud who deliberately stabbed everyone close to him in the back en route to becoming the world’s youngest billionaire.

The story of Zuckerberg’s phenomenal success began in 2003 when he was an undergraduate at Harvard University. That fall, after hacking into the school’s database for photos of coeds, he used an algorithm developed by his best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), to put up a website called Face Mash where male students could rate female classmates according to their looks.

The blog generated so much traffic that Harvard’s server crashed. As a result of the stunt, the sophomore was placed on academic probation. However, it also attracted the attention of three upperclassmen who had been independently developing a social networking website.

Identical twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Armie Hammer), along with Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), enlisted the assistance of Zuckerberg as a programmer, suggesting that he might repair his reputation by working on their project. Zuckerberg agreed verbally, but he secretly stole their idea, giving his partners the shock of their lives a few months later when he launched Facebook and proceeded to deny their claims of ownership of the website.

Directed by David Fincher (Panic Room), The Social Network chronicles the site’s meteoric rise from an Ivy League diversion to the daily online destination of over a half-billion users. Thanks in great part to the unparalleled performance by Jesse Eisenberg as the paranoid Mark Zuckerberg, the movie is riveting from beginning to end.

Again and again, Zuckerberg exhibits a chilling malevolence in his fight for control of the Facebook empire, resorting to chicanery and criminal behavior to eliminate anyone he perceived as a threat, whether it was his collaborators, investors, friends, or foes. He is, in this critic’s opinion, the scariest screen villain since Psycho’s Norman Bates.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, drug, and alcohol use. Running time: 121 Minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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