I have to admit I was skeptical. How interesting could a story about the founding of Facebook be? Programming mumbo jumbo and algorithms are only exciting to probably less than one percent of the population. But, as it turns out, The Social Network is not only interesting but also a gripping and fast-paced look at the mindset of the people and birth of a technology that is revolutionizing the world and the way we communicate.

The first five minutes of the film set the serve and volley tone as Zuckerberg’s girlfriend, Erica breaks up with him after a verbal sparring match that drew me right in but prompted the couple sitting next to me in the theater to walk right out. Apparently they quickly realized there wouldn’t be any explosions in this movie or at least not the kind where landmark buildings are blown up. Stinging from his breakup, Harvard student Zuckerberg unleashes his wrath on the opposite sex and develops a computer program that rates the hotness of female students, which proves to be so popular it crashes the university’s computer system. That’s where all the fun and trouble begins.

The Social Network delves into two separate lawsuits brought against Zuckerberg; one by his best friend and Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin and a second by fellow Harvard students, the Winklevoss brothers who came up with the idea for Facebook but didn’t have the knowledge to carry it out, to tell the story of how Facebook was started. The writing by Aaron Sorkin is witty and sharp and director David Fincher takes a civil litigation that takes place in a conference room and transforms it into a tight, suspenseful story that’s as entertaining as a high-profile courtroom drama.

Mark Zuckerberg actually doesn’t come off that badly in The Social Network. He’s portrayed as a computer genius that lacks social skills and doesn’t have patience for those who are not as smart as he is, which if you’re that intelligent is understandable. Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg in a layered performance that manages to make the character sympathetic in spite of his arrogance and apparent disloyalty to his best friend, Saverin.

The undeniably talented Justin Timberlake has finally grown up and looks like and commands the screen like a real man. He is charming and charismatic as Sean Parker, the founder of Napster. If Parker is anything like this in real life, it’s no wonder he seduced Zuckerberg into giving him a percentage of his growing empire while simultaneously getting him to squeeze Saverin out of the company.

The Social Network is about loyalty, friendship, class structure and privilege, ingenuity, modern business, and ultimately, perception. With more twists and turns than a Spanish soap opera, there are plenty of fireworks and no need for explosions.

The irony of the runaway success of Facebook is that the powerhouse tool that boasts 500 million users and made Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire on the planet may have come about because his girlfriend dumped him. That’s either fitting revenge or proof that love does make the world go round.

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