The Life Aquatic: Cate Blanchett's accent

Why did Cate Blanchett use a fake English accent in this movie? Is her natural accent noticeably Australian to English people? I always thought she was English until I looked her up on IMDB.

I haven’t noticed her accent to be very strongly Australian. She seems to play a lot of English characters or of indeterminate origin. It wouldn’t surprise me if she deliberately developed a very neutral accent to allow for a wider repertoire of roles.

What I meant was that in this movie, she isn’t using the accent she normally uses in most movies. She has a deliberately different English accent; the best I can describe it is that the pitch is higher.

Yes, I realise that. What I meant was, she often puts on accents to suit her characters. There is no standard Cate Blanchett accent.

Well, from what I can tell.

I’d guess it was a strange choice on Wes Anderson’s part. Also note Owen Wilson’s awful on-again off-again Kentucky accent.

It gave the affair an air of inauthenticity and seediness, as did the stop motion fake fish and the awful gunplay. Heck, even the translated Bowie on the soundtrack. I liked it. It was a strange choice, but I thought it worked.

Don’t miss her Performance in, “The Missing”
She and Tommy Lee Jones work well together.

I don’t think it’s just in movies, either. At the Golden Globes last night (or at least during the pre-event interviews) she sounded British, but in a very light accent to my Midwestern ears. Not at all Australian, unless there’s a “softer” Aussie accent I’m unfamiliar with.

Australian accents can vary across a wide range, just like any other nationalty’s.

I just thought she was carrying over a milder version of her Katherine Hepburn accent from The Aviator.

Warning: major over-analysis coming up:

Yes, Owen Wilson’s accent bugged the hell out of me at first, but by the end of the movie (and then seeing it a second time) I think I finally “got” it. Everything except for Zissou is supposed to be not-quite-real:

All the stop-motion animation (like the lizard that just gets flicked away)
The sea horse, which is significant only because Zissou gets it as a gift from a boy
The over-the-top posters from previous Team Zissou movies
Cate Blanchett’s prim-and-proper Englishwoman reporter with the Alice In Wonderland accent
Owen Wilson’s wide-eyed southern gentleman with the vague not-quite-right accent
Wilem Dafoe as the vaguely menacing Austrian-or-maybe-German
Michael Gambon as the fey uber-European film producer
Anjelica Houston as a hyper-intelligent Donnatella Versace
Bud Cort as the stereotypical corporate stooge
The cut-away Bonaparte set
Jeff Goldblum as basically himself, which is weird enough

It’s all like a Boy’s Adventure novel, and Zissou is in the middle of it, having a mid-life crisis, and all the “seams” are starting to show. Just like the animation, the performances too are supposed to be slightly cheesy. Everyone’s trying for a pulp adventure story and not quite getting it right.

Somebody in another thread said that she wished Bill Murray had played it “up” a little bit more, gone for more of the Ghostbusters character. I completely disagree. I think Murray’s performance was dead-on perfect because it was relatively understated; it pops out against all the artificiality of the rest of the world. Compare it to his character in Royal Tennenbaums, where he was allowed to be bizarre and goofy because he was one of the wacky characters in the periphery. Here, he’s the focus, and his performance perfectly showed a man who’s been living in a True-Life Adventure world that’s starting to fall apart.

The first time I saw it, I thought, “Oh, I get it. It’s Moby Dick.” But it’s not quite – it’s more like Moby Dick meets Peter Pan. He’s got his ship, his private island, his dolphins, his helicopter, his arch-rival, his Lost Boys, his fame, and he’s wondering what it all means. How is any of it relevant? Is anyone going to remember him at all, after he’s gone?

Gwyneth (SP) Paltrow was originally supposed to play the part. I just assumed Blanchett was doing an impression of Paltrow playing that part. Complete with odd sounding fake English accent.

About 15 years ago people used to note Kathleen Turner’s odd accent and voice (she’s sound vaguely English/European, but was apparently born and raised in Missouri). I think it’s just one of those theater things where the actor uses so many different voices that in the end there is no individual voice.

That was me, and I’m beginning to regret saying it!

My real point was that all of the performances were flat–intentionally so, judging by the rest of Anderson’s filmography. In this case, I don’t think it worked. I thought maybe if Murray were a little more…(searching for word that more accurately describes what I’m getting at…)…emotive (?) and maybe even gone for a couple more cheap laughs ('cause I’m a big comedy whore who likes a cheap laugh) it would have broken things up a bit and made for a…(searching for a nice film schoolish term to make me look smart and make up for the Ghostbusters thing…)…richer emotional pallette.

However, Anderson’s work seems to improve with repeated viewings, so I say we should take up this discussion again when the DVD comes out, eh Sol?

Oh, and after The Aviator, Cate Blanchett can do no wrong in my book.

And I like Ghostbusters! It’s a great movie!

Wow, Sol, you just totally nailed what made the movie work for me. I’ve been mulling it over for a while now, and that’s almost exactly what I was headed towards. Awesome.

Well, sure. My other favorite movie of last year besides The Life Aquatic was Dodgeball, so I do like the cheap laughs. (Btw, did you know that when Dodgeball was shown in Germany, its title was translated as “Right in the Nuts.” Much better title, IMO). But like you say, Wes Anderson’s movies don’t really go for the cheap laughs. Miller described The Life Aquatic as “the funniest movie I’ve seen without any jokes in it,” which is pretty appropriate.

The interesting bit to me is that Murray in Life Aquatic is doing basically the exact same thing he did in Ghostbusters, and Stripes, and Meatballs – he was the anchor, the only sane character surrounded by freaks. (And I didn’t come up with that; Roy Blount, Jr. said it in an article about Murray years ago that basically explains why Murray’s “big” movies were better than they had a right to be).

The difference is that before, his “character” was just the arrogant fuck-up. Now, he’s playing the guy who used to be an arrogant fuck-up but is now left wondering what he has to show for all of it. It’s the same as in Rushmore and Lost in Translation. If Murray had gone into any of those three movies playing Peter Venkman, it would’ve just come across as shallow and phony. They’re only resonant at all because of that melancholy edge to everything – the idea that he’s realizing he can’t really be that young, arrogant guy anymore.

I’m a huge fan of Murray’s (obviously), and think they should not only give him all the acting awards they keep nominating him for, but invent new ones to give him. But his performances are great not because he’s becoming a different character. They’re great because he keeps playing what is basically himself, but he knows exactly how to read the character and how much of himself to put into it.

Yeah, I haven’t seen The Aviator yet, but she’s just awesome. I can’t think of any other actress working today who so clearly just gets it and knows exactly what to do to make any part – white trash woman, Elf Queen, British reporter – work.