A trailer for Filipino Irish psychological thriller “Nocebo,” featuring Chai Fonacier, has sparked heated debate over the accent the local actor uses in the film.
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan, “Nocebo” follows a fashion designer, played by Eva Green, who comes down with a mysterious illness that bewilders her doctors and husband (Mark Strong). The family hires a Filipino caretaker, played by Fonacier, “who uses traditional folk healing to reveal a horrifying truth.” Many moviegoers were ecstatic to see Fonacier make her debut in the West after starring in award-winning Filipino films such as “Patay na si Hesus” (“Jesus is Dead”) and “Respeto” (“Respect”). However, some viewers were less thrilled about her character’s accent.
“The accent is unbearable. Why was the accent greenlit? Is it really necessary? Good for Chai, but my left eyebrow is raised. We know she doesn’t speak English like that,” one viewer wrote in a Twitter thread.
They added that the problem is not about being ashamed over having an accent, but more about depicting dangerous stereotypes in Western media.
“Immediately invalidating multiple people feeling off about this and the valid criticism makes you sound like ‘puro reklamo, suporta na lang kase,’” the Twitter user added.
Other users did not have an issue with Fonacier’s accent, arguing it only becomes a dangerous stereotype if it’s used for mockery or adds nothing of value to the character’s story.
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“Accents like that exist in the Philippines. It is accurate to whatever region the character is supposed to have come from,” another user said.
The Cebu native actor has spoken out following the buzz around her character’s accent.
“There’s some talk about the accent I used in the trailer,” Fonacier said. “Simply put: you would shit on me as an actor if I spoke in ‘better English’ and THEN you found out what my character’s background is when you see the film. Yun lang.”
She has also amassed much support since the trailer dropped on Monday.
Green also praised her co-star’s “extraordinary depth and sensitivity” in playing the character.
“Nocebo” is set to release on Nov. 4.