This was a movie with a computer aspect that did not make me want to go pound my head on something hard. My fellow geeks will immediately know wherof I speak. I can't actually tell whether the technobabble was presented in a way that would have been dramatically interesting to the non-technical crowd, because I was following along cheerfully and giggling with jld.
Fictional stuff with real people is always awkward, because sometimes you're not sure whether someone's talking about the fictional persona as presented in the fictional work, or the actual person it was based on, because goodness knows they are not the same. (As a reader of Real Person Fiction, I have had more time to think about this than many.) So I'm not actually going to concern myself with how faithful to the actual events and personalities this was, except to note that if real!Zuckerberg is actually like fictional!Mark, then wow. The Daily Beast has more on what's fact and what's fiction.
The film opens with a long and amazingly awkward conversation between Mark Zuckerberg and Erica Albright, wherein we learn that Mark probably has Attention Deficit Disorder due to his barely-intelligible conversation, and has not learned to cope with talking with neurotypical people whose brains handle one topic at a time and can't keep up with multithreaded thought processes or the leaps of logic. I could, but only because my brain also multithreads. It was a very honest portrayal of someone who is painfully socially inept: he knows he's being honest and straightforward, so why does everyone get upset with him and think he's a total asshole? I say this in complete fucking sympathy here: if you watch this movie and don't get why Erica dumps Mark, and people in your own life tell you that you're acting like an asshole but you just don't see it: the problem is most likely you. Get yourself evaluated to see if you happen to fall somewhere on the Asperger's spectrum, and find a trained professional who can coach you in the empathy and tact department.
Mark's drunken plans for revenge on his ex take the form of more alcohol and an immediate trip to LiveJournal, where he hatches a Lord King Bad Idea for rating his fellow students on their looks, and (with the reluctant help of roommate and BFF Eduardo Saverin) codes it up that night, still drunk off his ass. (If you thought Mark's conversation with Erica while they were dating was classy, you haven't seen anything yet; the whole film follows the same high standards of conduct from men towards women that one is likely to see in the tech industry.) After the subsequent bitching-out and academic probation, twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss approach Mark to get his help coding their bright idea for a social networking site.
The remainder of the film switches between two different lawsuits in the present day, featuring the Winklevoss twins and Eduardo, and the events leading up to the suits. It's pure trainwreck, and pure entertainment. It's a reverse bromance, chronicling the slow, inevitable disintegration of Mark and Eduardo's friendship. Justin Timberlake's skill with strong and incredibly creepy characters is showcased in his portrayal of Napster founder Sean Parker, who comes to drag Facebook (and unworldly Mark) into the big time, leaving earnest and practical business student Eduardo flailing behind in the dust.
- ADHD front and center.
- Witty fucking banter.
- Realistic computing.
- Realistic geekery.
- The LiveJournal shoutout. The site scheme resembles Xcolibur, which did exist in 2003; the page is almost convincing as the light version of update.bml. it's very close: someone did do their research.
- The chicken. (Chickens do, in fact, like to eat any kind of meat they're offered, cooked or raw. Chickens are also more vicious to their low-status fellows than a gaggle of teenage girls. I think you see where I'm going with this train of explanation, so I'm going to stop before I actually reach the station.)
- Justin Timberlake's acting.
- The moment where it's raining outside the room with all the lawyers, and Mark's attention is questioned.
- The Eduardo/Mark/Sean dynamic. I ship it, guys.
- Rowing as a theme.
- Rejection Means Rejection holding, and no dramatic reconciliation after someone gets famous.
- Erica does not go off alone with the guy who was an asshole to her: she stands her ground and sits right in public with her friends. Her friends back her up when Mark gets pushy.
- Geeky pluralization standards.
- The hilarious job interview process for their intern, with the hacking contest, with shots.
- Plugged-in hack mode that cannot be interrupted, even when the boss says to get the fucking door because someone's ringing the bell.
- The place where I whispered, "HEY MARK HEY MARK HEY MARK" to tiferet and jld and they just lost it.
- The zipline.
- Oh god that bathrobe.
- The business cards.
- The ending scene, which felt emotionally right even as we were exhorting him to not click that button. Then the F5, which went from true to hilarious to sad and back into hilarious again.
- All the things that Jezebel pointed out.
- Specifically, the moment where Christy and Alice ask what they can do to help the project, and their offer to help is dismissed out of hand makes me very cranky. It may be illustrative of sexism in the tech industry in general, but ... couldn't they have put more of the actual women involved with Facebook from the early stages in?
- Eduardo's girlfriend brings the straight crazy at one point, which is simultaneously hilarious and appalling.
- Unlike real!Zuckerberg's actual blog, LiveJournal inserts timestamps for you, and fake!LiveJournal does not show the timestamp.
- Fake!LiveJournal isn't quiiiiite right.
- The current lack of a Mark/Sean vid to "Bad Romance".
- I'm prejudiced against white chickens.
This movie does not appear to pass the Bechdel test. Female characters include Erica, who dumps Mark after he's a jackass to her, and Erica's roommate who either is not named or whose name I have forgotten (they converse about how Erica does not want to see what Mark's blog said); Christy and Alice, who may have whispered about whether that guy was Mark or not; two unnamed girls in the Silicon Valley house talking about a video game and how stoned they were; two unnamed girls at the party talking about drugs. Various women are also administrators and in the lawyer-heavy scenes, but again, the conversations are about Mark, and how much trouble Mark is in.
The story carried me along, although I did get a little bogged down in the long artistic jog from the pub back to Mark's dorm room as the beginning credits rolled. Jesse Eisenberg is a convincing social maladept and geek, Andrew Garfield's reaction to the C&D letter charmed me, and Justin Timberlake gradually ramps up the fucking cuckoo from merely mild to just plain way out the hell there.
There are no Easter eggs at the end of the film, so no need to stick around for the whole credits, though if you make a note at the right point during the film, you can join a small flock of the observant and curious for discussion.
Overall, enjoyable, and I plan to watch it again sometime.