For his supporting role as Louis the Dauphin in David Michôd’s The King, Robert Pattinson has made an interesting choice with his accent. In the years following his time in the Twilight saga, Pattinson has become one of the most interesting and unpredictable actors of his generation. Taking on parts in indie dramas by celebrated auteurs such as Claire Denis and David Cronenberg, Pattinson remolded his public image from glittery heart-throb to darling of experimental cinema. He’s now making a leap back into the mainstream with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and, of course, The Batman, but before he gets there, he’s appeared in the Netflix drama The King.

Based on the Henry IV and V history plays by Shakespeare, David Michôd’s historical film does not use the dialogue of the Bard but follows the same narrative of arguably his most iconic history titles. Timothée Chalamet plays the wayward prince Hal throughout his ascendance to the English throne as Henry V and his victorious leadership against French troops in the Battle of Agincourt. Pattinson stars as Louis, Duke of Guyenne, the dauphin - a son of King Charles VI of France and Queen Isabel. Pattinson has never been one to play it safe with his roles. He’s not quite as bonkers in The King, although it is certainly a very strange performance viewers may not expect to see in what is otherwise a standard historical drama, especially in terms of its tone. The most notable aspect of this performance is his accent, which can only be described as delightfully ridiculous.

Pattinson has certainly made a very specific choice with the French accent he uses for the part of the Dauphin. It is, to put it bluntly, outrageously French in a way that borders on parody. Some have compared it to Inspector Clouseau, while others, noting the long blonde hair and petulant pout Pattinson exhibits in the role, have drawn parallels with the infamously crazy German actor Klaus Kinski. Another thing that comes to viewers’ minds is Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid. If Pattinson had broken out into a rendition of “Les Poissons”, it wouldn’t have been a surprise. His Dauphin is a fop used to getting his own way and one with no desire to slum it in the muddy fields with the commoners.

It’s a fitting accent to go with the rest of the performance. Pattinson is the primary adversary of Chalamet’s Hal but he doesn’t turn up in The King until an hour or so into its 140 minutes runtime. He’s almost like a pantomime villain in some scenes, sneering and reveling in his pomposity, happy to have the audience booing at him. The Dauphin spends a lot of time sitting in an elaborately carved wooden chair sneering and being a lavish bully, and he’s easily the standout reason to watch the film. Pattinson’s performance is by far and away the most Shakespearean element of a movie that otherwise seems keen on stripping the material of that theatrical grandeur.

If nothing else, the accent shows Pattinson’s willingness to go well beyond the perceived boundaries of sensible and traditionally dramatic acting, even if nobody else in his cast is following suit. 2019 has been a great reminder of Pattinson’s range and fascinating unpredictability as an actor, and that’s something that should be celebrated. With The King, Robert Pattinson steals the scene once more.

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