Reel Rumbles #32: “The Social Network” vs. “The King’s Speech”

Tom Clift

A freelance film journalist from Melbourne, Australia, Tom Clift is the co-founder of Movie Mezzanine and a regular contributor to outlets including FilmInk Magazine and Concrete Playground.

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4 Responses

  1. Jandy Stone says:

    Great piece, Tom. I’m pretty right on board with you all along the way. Despite not having seen The King’s Speech. Minor technicality. You’ve actually made me more interested in seeing it, but I’m pretty sure The Social Network will still win in my mind.

  2. Actually Flickchart did decide its champion, but wasn’t that champion Inception?? :-)

    For the record, I haven’t seen the King’s Speech, but The Social Network was a very good film.

  3. Travis McClain says:

    I’ve seen both of these, actually. I still maintain that Black Swan was on an entirely different level than either of these reached, but that’s for another time. ;)

    I rented The Social Network on Blu-ray and watched at home. I quickly realized that the running commentary about how Facebook “is never finished” was an allusion to the story being told in the film, which accounts for its rather unconventional way of just sort of…stopping. There’s no triumphant climax here. I kinda liked that, truth be told. It fit the unconventional nature of the film.

    The King’s Speech I saw on the big screen. I admire the production design, which was both grand in scale and intricate in detail. I know that some viewers felt the cinematography “tried too hard” with its obviously unorthodox choices throughout the film. I didn’t mind that (though I was conscious of it), but here’s the problem I did have:

    Because the actors were often framed on the periphery, the set filled the majority of the screen in most of the movie. The detail–admirable though it was–became distracting and then overwhelming. I didn’t quite realize it until the brief scene where the two walk in the park and all of a sudden, the screen–and I–could breathe. That respite lasted just a minute or so, and then it was back to being indoors and having the screen full from top to bottom for much of the remainder of the film.

    I think ultimately this rumble will be decided by those who either favor extravagance or restraint. The King’s Speech was almost leisurely in its storytelling, but was a circus of a film. Conversely, The Social Network ran at a fast clip, but it was shot in a way that allowed us to get comfortable. It’s an interesting contrast between the excesses of a relatively younger director and the skillful restraint of the veteran.

    As for the Oscars, I predicted Eisenberg to win Best Actor. Firth then went on a run, collecting all kinds of accolades and trophies, but for my money Eisenberg’s was the stronger performance. A member of the royal family in a period drama? Hardly out of Firth’s comfort zone, is it? Eisenberg, however, had a film that many derided as frivolous before it was even shot and had to make interesting a character that was not sympathetic. I felt it demonstrated far more range and growth from him, though that’s not to disparage what Firth did. His stutter was obviously demanding physically and can’t have been easy.

    One last observation: Geoffrey Rush reminded me a lot of his performance in The Tailor of Panama, right down to the bold striped suit. It gets overlooked in conversations about the guy, what with all his art house fare and all, but it’s a wonderful performance and well worth seeing.

  4. Alan Grimm says:

    I would actually say that The Social Network is only a film of the now, not timeless.  Given the lifespan of the average social network platform and the current stirrings of Google Plus, will people actually care about Facebook in ten years?  People will still care about a man who struggles to overcome such a deeply personal, and in his case, crippling obstacle.  That’s what timeless is all about.