In Defense of Robert Pattinson’s Accent in The Devil All The Time

I grew up in the 1980’s listening to a myriad of southern white preachers on Sunday nights blow through town and set up shop masquerading as revival services. Some of them brought bouffantéd wives. Some of them brought gospel quartets with nasally male altos and big tall basses. All of them brought the same energy that Robert Pattinson has in The Devil All The Time.

The accent itself has sparked a bit of controversy and conversation. The Devil All The Time is full of European actors speaking in deep southern and rural American accents. Bill Skarsgård’s is particularly intriguing, and Henry Mellings’ (Dudley from Harry Potter) is the most bemusing. But Rob’s is the one everyone is talking about. Oh, you’ve missed it? Don’t miss it

 

Robert reportedly didn’t use a dialect coach for his Preston Teagardin, and didn’t let anyone hear what he was going to do vocally until the cameras rolled. To mixed reviews. It’s been called camp and the scariest part of the film, which includes a flayed and crucified man AND dog. Having heard many a Tennessee preacher boy wax ridiculous about a church potluck, I’m here to tell you, what it is, is perfect. 

It’s a perfect mix of runt of the litter Tennessee boy and sharp meanness. The very first word in this clip, “Friends,” is said in a soft, breathy petition that says he’s a gentle man and a gentleman. “Poor people” has the false quiver of emotion that is meant to display empathy. The type of men who chose this profession and chose to prey on their congregants are the same type of men who manipulate with every word, deed, gesture and chosen cadence. If it sounds put on, it’s because it’s put on.

For naysayers, all I can say is imagine a less attractive man sounding the same, saying the same, and you’ll get it. Pattinson’s Teagardin is despicable, and the shit that flies out of his mouth is pure southern gothic. 

The Devil All The Time is streaming right now on Netflix.

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