Preview review: With powerful trailer, ‘The Social Network’ becomes a fall front-runner (in July)

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Who knew Facebook could be so deep?

After releasing two teaser trailers for David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” Sony has finally given us a full preview for the Aaron Sorkin-penned movie, out in October. And judging by the trailer, there’s nothing light about the movie, which takes a dark, dramatic look at the website’s roots.

The film is based on Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book, “Accidental Billionaires.” Among other things, the book details a lawsuit between founder Mark Zuckerberg and former classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who claimed they were the ones who came up with the idea for the site. Of course, we know how the real-life saga ended — the twin brothers reportedly received a $65-million settlement from Facebook.

My colleague Steven Zeitchik has said the movie is going to be a “hot-button film this fall,” a possible award contender that “will get tongues wagging about the rigors and ethics of social media.” It’s evident from this trailer that that’s certainly the direction the marketing campaign is headed. The trailer opens with a montage of images Facebook users have posted on the site. At first, the pictures are lighthearted — college kids out drinking, teens hanging out in parking lots. But things slowly get more serious — a woman is shown with an IV in her arm, a baby is born.


Accompanied by Scala & Kolacny Brothers’ version of Radiohead’s “Creep,” the effect is somewhat chilling, and at first we were taken aback by it. We don’t generally think of Facebook, which so many of us use to post funny YouTube videos or share Happy Birthday messages, as much more than a fun distraction from work (um, we’ve heard).

We also get to see more of the newly anointed Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield, who plays Eduardo Saverin, one of Zuckerberg’s early partners, and he seems right at home as a nervous, smart Harvard student. And Jesse Eisenberg is convincing as (and shares an eerie resemblance with) the real-life Zuckerberg. The only actor who looks like he might be mildly out of place is Justin Timberlake. He plays Sean Parker, the president of Facebook who mentors Zuckerberg and Saverin, but his portrayal of a money-hungry businessman feels unnatural.

Even though the approach here seems a little self-serious, ultimately, it’s effective. It’s clear from some of the dialogue that the movie has something to say about social media, the slippery nature of online identity and the perils of youthful ambition. Says Zuckerberg in the movie: “I need to do something substantial in order to get the attention of the [Harvard final] clubs. ... because they’re exclusive, and fun, and they lead to a better life.”

Given Eisenberg’s portrayal of him, the movie may not do wonders for Zuckerberg’s own life. But it may enhance ours. “The Social Network” looks entertaining and smart – which in contemporary Hollywood is a rare status.

— Amy Kaufman

[UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed to the cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” to Vega Choir rather than Scala & Kolacny Brothers.] RECENT AND RELATED

‘The Social Network’s’ provocative new teaser trailer

‘The Social Network’ keeps teasing us with great trailers

‘The Social Network’ as this fall’s ‘Hurt Locker’?

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.