The meteoric, controversial rise of Facebook's creator, Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg), is given the full studio treatment, charting the social networking site's growth from a desktop in a Harvard dorm room to unimagined international prominence. The film jumps between past and present, cutting from an older, wiser Zuckerberg fending off several lawsuits stemming from allegations of corporate betrayals and questions of idea provenance (did Mark steal someone else's concept?), to his ever-so-slightly younger days as an awkward college nerd who seizes on a potentially world-changing idea. Success, it seems, always comes with a price.
Veteran director Fincher scores again, proving that Hollywood can still make successful films for adults. The film's massive box-office success (and eight Oscar nods) attest first and foremost to fabulous story-telling. Still, its Fincher's expert pacing that keeps us glued throughout. Evoking shades of Citizen Kane, Aaron Sorkin's razor-sharp script takes on the dimensions of great tragedy and hubris, and performances from the young cast are uniformly stellar, with Eisenberg's Oscar-nominated lead portrayal and Justin Timberlake's smarmy turn as Napster co-founder Sean Parker particular standouts. All these elements coalesce to bring this ripped-from-the-headlines, tech-heavy saga to vibrant dramatic life.