There was no pause button on the armrest of my seat in the movie theater, true. But in the opening scene to “The Social Network,” oddly, I felt a need to find one, just to have a moment to process the blindingly-fast dialogue that was happening onscreen between Harvard computer geek Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Erica Albright. In the scene, the two undergrads are trading quips and barbs sitting in a college watering hole, and Zuckerberg’s inability to slow down and censor himself is not going over too well with his more socially-adept girlfriend. Crap, I thought, if the whole movie sounds like that rapid-fire guy in the old FedEx commercials, my head is going to explode.

It wasn’t until as I was leaving the theater that I recognized why director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin cleverly chose to open with the dizzying acerbic patter (which reportedly took the two actors 99 takes to get right). One of the main ideas in “The Social Network,” which is based on the meteoric rise of Facebook (which Zuckerberg created in 2003 in his dorm room) is that time waits for no one. The pace set at the beginning rockets the audience into a rarified world where everyone is bright, some are brilliant, and all are expected to push greatness to new levels. That first conversation, the outcome, and lessons not learned or simply dismissed resonate throughout the film. But then again, there are all kinds of ways races can be won, and looking back and seeing what you left behind in your wake might just slow you down.

As played by a well-cast and very consistent Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Zuckerberg is one tightly-wound and cold young man, whose lack of empathy towards others and obsessive drive places him somewhere into (kindly) the autism spectrum or (not-so-kindly) sociopathy. Many times throughout the movie, it seems simply unbelievable that he ever could have acquired a single real friend of any kind. Despite his oddness or maybe because of it, the story being told is compelling, and you feel yourself tumbling forward with the characters as Zuckerberg’s prodigious talent combines with bitter immaturity one night and he creates “Facemash” by raiding private student info from Harvard’s servers in an epic hack session. Instead of reviling him, old-money upper-crust twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (played regally by Armie Hammer, someone who knows something about old money) instead admire Zuckerberg’s abilities, and ask him if he’d like to write the code for their idea to make a Harvard-only social networking site. He agrees, but quickly sees how “Harvard Connection” is too limited and begins to build what becomes Facebook. He does not inform the twins of this, thereby setting up the eventual Lawsuit #1.

Lawsuit #2 comes from original Facebook CFO Eduardo Saverin, another Harvard classmate and friend, whose original monetary investments supporting Zuckerberg’s concept were crucial to launching Facebook. The movie is sympathetic to Saverin – not surprising as he was extensively interviewed for the “The Accidental Billionaires,” the book by Ben Mezrich upon which “The Social Network” was based (Zuckerberg declined to be involved with the book or the film.). The movie timeline is expertly cut with deposition scenes from both lawsuits. Often the lawyers, far advanced in age and experience from the bickering plaintiffs and defendant, can do nothing but roll their eyes over their outbursts across the tables.

As unlikable as Zuckerberg is throughout the movie, somehow he really isn’t the devil. That role, arguably, is given to Napster founder Sean Parker, played with Hollywood flair by Justin Timberlake. Parker randomly comes across an early Facebook page, and is instantly drawn to its possibilities. He, Zuckerberg, and Saverin in a defining and decadent Manhattan meeting begin to talk about the idea of making billions rather than millions of dollars. Saverin is repelled by Parker’s manic schmoozing while Zuckerberg hangs on to his every word as gold, and their fates are sealed as Parker convinces Zuckerberg to move to Silicon Valley and leave all non-essentials in the dust. Parker’s fondness for booze and drugs, underage girls, and grandiosity are quietly but pointedly undercut by the introduction of grasping paranoia, and his Epi-Pen and asthma inhaler. Once a bitter nerd, always a bitter nerd, the film seems to snark.

There is a crackle and excitement to the movie – two hours go by quickly. Yet the emotion I most felt while viewing it was one of a kind of sadness in the personal costs extracted by the incredible success of Facebook. Business is business, it seems, and nothing was going to get in the way of Zuckerberg’s ambitions for Facebook. It is no small irony that one so lacking in social skills had the insight to design something that compels people around the globe to connect with it and then to each other, or that the spoils of success – money, fame, power – actually don’t seem to be something Zuckerberg cares much about. Being able to take them because he could, and for the primary purpose of denying them to others? Maybe so. Or maybe business is business, time waits for no one, and anyone would be naïve to expect otherwise. “The Social Network” is a very, very good film, and raises interesting and very timely questions about human nature past the details of its story.

A final note, an observance on the only song in the movie, positioned at the closing credits: The Beatles’ “Baby, You’re A Rich Man.” Oh, filmmakers…you are too smart and too snark to have not known that this tune, generally thought to have been written about Beatle manager Brian Epstein, has been long-rumored to contain the words, “Baby, you’re a rich fag Jew” towards the end.