A while back, Stacia expressed mild worry over Halle Berry‘s coming Frankie and Alice, in which the Oscar winner plays as a woman with multiple personalities — one of whom is a racist white lady:
Let’s just say we’re really, really not looking forward to this.
But then, do we ever look forward to films that Halle Berry’s in anymore? The trailers alone tend to warn us away; it’s as if her performances are buzzing neon lights reading, “Watch at Your Risk.”
But then, the Pinkett-Berry Effect is sort of a foundational position here at PB.
This theory proposes that the presence of either actress in a motion picture is a reliable indicator of general suckitude. It should be understood that the presence of either Pinkett-Smith or Berry need not be the cause* of a movie’s suckage but may serve either as a correlational variable or a mediating factor amplifying other precursors for suckage, thus enhancing the general impression of overall suckitude.
In other words, if Jada Pinkett-Smith or Halle Berry is in a movie, it is highly likely that that film will be a disasterpiece, although with Pinkett-Smith that’s probably more of an indicator (por ejemplo, the crappy later entries in the Matrix trilogy, in which she played only a minor part); Berry is usually a major cause of a given movie’s shittiness.
A major reason for this is Berry’s distracting, mercurial blaccent, which seem to wax and wane over the course of a given movie, and which she relies on to signal to the audience that her character is not really a stunning actress but just, plain simple folk. Crackhead? Troubled mulatto child in the antebellum South? What’s the difference, really?
In Queen, Berry played a biracial ex-slave who wore tons of face powder.
She employs the same dialect in the very, very not-good TV adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God, even though that’s set at least half a century later, and presumably in another state. But I suppose the South’s the South or something.
In Monster’s Ball, Berry heads to rural Georgia. Set about 90 years later (give or take), and her accent seems to change from scene to scene. (In fairness, that could be sort of code-switchy, as Billy Bob Thornton‘s pappy is a racist and so she’s on guard or whatever.)
In the 1995 melodrama Losing Isaiah, Berry is a lachrymose recovering crack addict fighting with Jessica Lange for custody of a massively craniumed little boy. The movie is set in Chicago, so her vaguely Southern drawl still makes sense, even if it still sounds unnatural.
And as yet another crackhead in Jungle Fever:
The blaccent isn’t the only issue, of course. Even when she drops it, as in Bulworth, there’s an air of implausibility around her line readings.