I don't feel like David Fincher has ever been a particularly zeitgeist oriented director. He's always focused more on stories that feel eternal, yet relevant. The Social Network breaks a bit of new ground for him, in that the story of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg is very now. This is a worldwide revolution that is changing day by day, hour by hour, maybe even second by second and Fincher is trying to catch lightening in a bottle by encapsulating the creation of an ever evolving thing, which, in reality, is not just Facebook, but the entire social networking platform and the internet itself.
Jesse Eisenberg, in another great role, plays Zuckerberg a nerdish malcontent who, because of a bad break up, invents a quick game called face smash, which pits the girls of Harvard against each other in a contest of who is the hottest. While this gets him in deeply hot water, it also births the idea for a new type of social networking site aimed specifically at colleges, and, originally, meant to be localized only for the school you were in. It begins a massive growth, though, and becomes a monster, and makes monsters of all involved, especially Zuckerberg.
Fincher is in perfect Fincher form, using every tool at his disposal to tell the best story possible, and, truth be told, I can not think of a single thing that didn't jive with me. Jesse Eisenberg brings a certain naivety to Zuckerberg, on one hand, and a certain amount of evil genius on the other. Andrew Garfield plays the amazingly excited, but soon ousted co-founder Eduardo Saverin who ends up fighting against Napster founder/late in the game Facebook contributor Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), resulting in him being left out in the cold, and suing Zuckerberg for a multitude of things. The film, at its core, is about how these apparatus's (specifically Facebook) come into existence, and how a simple idea can make people millions, and also drive a chasm between them that is so incredibly deep and wide, it will never be able to be closed. It made me feel bad, somewhat, for Zuckerberg's character, because he's obviously a douchebag, but he's a douchebag because he can't connect to people in a meaningful way. Odd for a guy who designed a site that is all about connection.