There's something terrifically dizzying about "The Social Network," which dramatizes a short, intense period in the life of Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old billionaire founder of Facebook. The script, by Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing"), is so lightning-fast that it borders on the subliminal, while director David Fincher ("Fight Club") steers and veers with the aggressive grace of a Formula One champion. What's really head-spinning, though, is the movie's very existence.
Facebook became a cultural phenomenon only a few years ago, and Zuckerberg isn't some ossified historical figure. Both stories are still being written, yet here comes The Movie Version. In a way, "The Social Network" is moving almost as fast as the Internet itself.
It also may cause the same kind of damage. Based on "The Accidental Billionaires," Ben Mezrich's semifictionalized book, "The Social Network" depicts the Harvard-educated Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, in an indelible performance) as a snarled knot of insecurity, envy and reverse-class rage - Sammy Glick in a hoodie. It's easy to see why Zuckerberg would swipe a good Web idea from the privileged Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence, identically hilarious), but it's awful to watch the downfall of his loyal friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). The only person slick enough to avoid the shiv is Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, played by a breezy, sleazy Justin Timberlake.
Zuckerberg, who did not cooperate with the filmmakers, probably won't be happy with his unflattering (but always sympathetic) portrayal. For better or worse, it will be this old-fashioned movie that tells the definitive story of Facebook.