I don’t see why any U.S. distributor would hesitate to put subtitles on any British-made film, especially a low-budgeter shot in northern England. There are few things worse than being unable to understand your own language because of a litany of beefy, sickly-looking British actors with the absolute worst haircuts in the world swallowing and gobbledy-gooking their northern patois.
I don’t want anyone to alter their natural speech patterns, mind. I just want to understand what they’re saying. The obvious solution is subtitles, and yet this rarely seems to happen except when the films in question (like Paul Greeengrass‘s masterful Bloody Sunday) have gone to DVD.
I saw about 60% of James Marsh‘s Red Riding installment (i.e., part two of the trilogy) last night, and I finally gave up because I really couldn’t understand half of the fawkin’ dialogue. I understood Paddy Considine, who plays the lead role, and some of what some of the supporting players were saying, but only fragments.
The okay-that’s-it moment came when Considine’s ginger-haired detective colleague told him something fairly important (to judge by his stunned reaction), and of course I couldn’t understand her. And Marsh couldn’t be bothered to rephrase or reiterate the information in some way. And it wasn’t just me. Anthony Kaufman told me outside the screening room that he had watched this same scene repeatedly on a screener and still couldn’t figure it out.
I’m finished with the Red Riding trilogy. The Yorkshire Ripper can keep on killing for all I care. Marsh’s filmmaking style is sturdy and legible, and I was pleased with his use of 2.35 Scope. But I was lost — and I seriously hate muttering guttural British films that make me feel this way.