Oct. 17th, 2010

I have a bit of a weakness for films and documentaries about corporate mendacity, but, like a true Sorkin fangirl, would pretty much go and see anything he writes. The Social Network, then, hit at least two of my buttons.

Given that so much of the exposition happens around a sequence of boardroom tables, during a succession of depositions, and that most of the characters are desperately unlikeable, it was one of the most engaging films I've seen this year.

I did find it strangely un-Sorkin-like in tone, and the righteousness of The West Wing, and (to a greater extent) Studio 60, is largely missing. What Sorkin does write beautifully, though, is relationships between men, and the central love/friendship triangle is exquisitely rendered. You can almost taste the bile rising in his throat when Eduardo Saverin realises that he has been comprehensively fucked over by Mark Zuckerberg, in favour of Justin Timberlake's truly hideous Sean Parker.

There has been much commentary around the fact that facts and individuals have been blurred and elided in the script, and there are certainly other views of the central characters than Sorkin's. Parker, particularly, is portrayed as a pretentious, malicious playboy, whose chief value to Zuckerberg is his rolodex and ability to spout business truisms. A recent Vanity Fair piece has him as a renaissance man, whose genius and insight transcend disciplines. The truth, probably, is somewhere in the middle.

The film's opening sequences feature Zuckerberg insulting his girlfriend's school (Boston University); blogging about her stupidity, her ethnicity, and her breast size; blogging about creating a website to compare female undergraduates with farm animals; and then creating a website to allow male Harvard students to compare the relative attractiveness of female undergraduates. This latter sequence is intercut with scenes of the 'Fuck Bus' (bringing attractive female undergrads from other schools) arriving for a final club party, and then women kissing each other, and dancing in their underwear for the benefit of the privileged male club members.

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