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Deadfall and the Questionable Southern Accent

April 26, 2013

Deadfall movie poster

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Deadfall tells the bleak story of three dysfunctional families who converge on a snowy Thanksgiving in northern Michigan.

It is an odd little film permeated with ultra-violence, odd accents and convenient rendezvous. Snow mobiles will go full speed, Eric Bana loses fingers and Olivia Wilde once again finds herself in Alpha Dog territory.

Deadfall Olivia Wilde Snow

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I had little problem with Treat Williams utter disdain for his capable daughter (Kate Mara) or Olivia Wilde’s inconsistent twang as she woos Charlie Hunnam. What bothered me was Eric Bana’s accent. Bana is a wonderful actor and has proven his mettle in Chooper, Hanna, Munich, Star Trek, Funny People and Black Hawk Down. He has been a believable foil to Adam Sandler, Captain Kirk and an odd Southern accented Cate Blanchett. However, the southern accent proves to be his downfall.You can’t appreciate the sweet jacket he wears whilst killing people because the character never hits the right tonal note because of the forced accent and not enough depth. I don’t need the full back story of a character but I do need something because when he is self righteously killing people and acting borderline incestuous with his sister it feels like a script device and not a fleshed out character.

DEADFALL

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I know what his character is supposed to be. He is a current day Misfit who says things like “I hope you can forgive me” before he kills you. However, the script doesn’t give him enough good lines or motivation to become a scary killer angel. Instead, from the first moment you hear his voice an alarm goes off that something isn’t right. Suspension of disbelief is impossible as a southern twang comes out of a über Aussies mouth. I kept waiting for him to lose the accent and prove it was all a rouse of a master criminal. That never happened and the southern talk kept happening.

Is it Bana’s fault? Or, is it the accent? I can name a plethora of actors who have attempted the accent and come out on the losing side. For instance, Melissa Leo (Oblivion), Idris Elba (Prometheus), John Cusack (Paper Boy), Keanu Reeves (Devil’s Advocate), Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs) and pretty much everyone else who has attempted a southern accent has been foiled. So, while Bana is leaving a bloody trail through snowy Michigan it doesn’t come across as threatening because you are too busy scratching your head. Check out the first few seconds of the trailer.

Deadfall isn’t all bad. It has the feeling of an old noir that is incredibly bleak while offering moments of dark humor. You understand why everyone signed up and the director Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters) has a solid resume. However, the chess pieces don’t fall into place and it feels contrived and  too easy at key moments. The set up is obvious and it lacks the skill needed to string together a winning/fluid chess game. Instead, you are treated to a lean, mean and good-looking machine that doesn’t nail the accents but strings together enough solid scenes to make it a worthwhile background/late at night film.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2013 1:40 am

    If you’re going to do a role with a Southern accent just call McConaughey. I actually think old Matthew puts on a bit of a front with how thick and sometimes thin his accent can be but it works for him. Eric Bana had no business going near such a thing. I will say I wasn’t expecting him to put the steak knife through Son’s of Anarchy’s hand at the dinner table. I watched this movie before reading the review and strangely enough it was just background noise. I payed attention at the beginning, listened to my lady friend read stuff off the chive for most of the middle, and was back and fourth between random youtube videos and the ending. Not paying attention for that much of the movie and was still able to cross all the T’s and dot all the lower case J’s at the end. I hate it when this happens because I feel like they really could have had something here but it just didn’t come together.

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