Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Miss Julie and battling northern accents

The trailer for Liv Ullmann’s translation of Ibsen’s play to Fermanagh contains vowels of interest

Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 23:24


Here’s an interesting curiosity. The trailer for Liv Ullmann’s version of Ibsen’s Miss Julie — the tale of an upper-class woman’s pursuit of a valet — finally answers the question we have long been asking: can Colin Farrell do a Northern Irish accent? If he’s tried one before I can’t remember when (but I’m sure Farrellistas will enlighten us). The answer could be: yes, but perhaps not the right Northern Irish accent. Ms Ullmann’s take on the play, featuring Jessica Chastain as the heroine and our Colin as the servant, is set in, of all places, the fine, lake-heavy county of Fermanagh. If you don’t recognise the lovely scenery, you might guess this fact from the few vowels uttered by Samantha Morton at about two minutes into the trailer. The Nottingham-born actor looks to have got the border accent down pretty well. Obviously, few American (or Swedes, presumably) can easily tell the difference between a Fermanagh accent and, say, a Mayo accent, but it is good to see that Samantha has made the effort.

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Now, to Colin. Born and raised in the North, I hereby give Colin the thumbs up. He rather over-eggs the notoriously difficult “how now brown cow” vowels, but this is a very creditable Ulster twang. Here’s the thing. There is no way it’s a Fermanagh accent. This sounds very east of the Bann to me. Of course, we don’t know where the character is from. My memory of the play is that the manservant worked on the estate for many years, but this version may have him growing up in Belfast, Ballymena or wherever. Anyway, only a tiny percentage of the potential audience will give a tuppenny hoot. We hereby stamp an “approved” message on Colin’s accent and move on to other things.

Miss Julie will premiere at the Toronto accent before emerging in the US during awards season. We should see it at the turn of the year.