A trailer dropped yesterday, and I cannot stop thinking about it. The Mauritanian is about Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who was accused of being the chief recruiter for 9/11 and held in Guantanamo Bay for years without charges being filed. Ultimately, his case went to court, where many of the Gitmo abuses surrounding “enhanced interrogation techniques” (read: torture) came to light. The case was so egregious the military prosecutor, Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, QUIT, and that guy went on to be a Trump appointee who maybe threatened toddler-aged children in deportation hearings with “scary animals” if they misbehaved, so you KNOW it wasn’t some progressive stand he was taking, but things were THAT out of hand at Gitmo that even hard-core right-wing military dudes were like, YIKES. I understand that The Mauritanian is telling an important story about one of America’s darkest hours, but ALSO, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Couch and he sounds like THIS:
I MEAN. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FUNCTION NOW? Now that I have heard Bumbleboort Cumblebun attempt a Southern(?) accent, how am I expected to go through my day as if everything is ordinary? Nothing will ever be ordinary again! I hear the echo of Bandersnatch Clovenhoof drawling, “Ah’ve nev-ah been paht of ah cahn-spiracy be-fawh,” on a loop in my mind all the time! Where is he FROM? South Virginiabama? Florixas? West Georgolina? Is this the worst Hollywood Southern(??) accent since Forrest Gump? It might be! Brambleside Cooverthatch is a great actor, but boy are accents NOT his thing. His American accent in general isn’t great—Doctor Strange sounds like he is constantly dictating his dialogue to a 1967 Dictaphone that won’t work if he doesn’t e-nun-ci-ate ev-er-y syl-lab-le directly into the microphone. But this Southern(???) accent is next-level terrible. In general, it is a hard accent to attempt, and it seems especially hard for Brits to master the relaxed vowels and almost non-existent final consonants.
It probably would have been better to just let Bendy Cucumber do the Dictaphone American accent instead of attempting this swamp drawl. It is SO distracting. I am usually of the mind that no one should be acting outside of their natural accent unless it is strictly necessary—because it IS frequently distracting, even with the best actors—but if an actor MUST do an accent, they should just default to the “no inflection standard” of that area. For America, that would be the non-accent I call “Midwest weather reporter”. It is a specific, inflectionless accent taught to news anchors and actors that is distinctly American without sounding like it is from anywhere specific. It can still be a bad accent, but it is noticeably less bad than when people attempt highly specific regional accents like the Southern accent (which isn’t a monolith, people from the Carolinas don’t sound like Georgians don’t sound like Texans, et cetera). If you blow the Midwest weather reporter accent, it’s usually because your natural accent slips out, not because you sound lahk you ahhrr chokin’ on muh-lah-sass. The Mauritanian wants to be an Important Legal Drama, but really, it will be the movie known solely for Benedict Cumberbatch’s singularly awful Southern(????) accent.