Film: The Accountant, as reviewed by Amy Kellestine

It was tricky for me to choose a movie to review this month. I wanted to mix it up a bit for you, the reader, but I also wanted to watch something I would enjoy as a viewer. So, I pored over IMDB and Rotten Tomato ratings and a number of reviews before ultimately selecting The Accountant.

The basic premise of the movie is that the accountant, Christian Wolff, played by the stoic Ben Affleck, is an autistic savant. He’s brilliant at math and puzzles, but has trouble socializing and requires a highly ritualistic experience, among other autistic traits. His father, a military psychologist, believes the world doesn’t accept those who are different, and rejects the suggested conventional therapies. Instead, under his father’s leadership, Chris is taught a number of army-grade tactical and fighting skills to complement his extreme intelligence. The result is a cross between Batman (Dark Knight era) and Rain Man.

As an adult, this unique skill set means Christian is the perfect accountant to the baddest of bad guys – everyone from the mafia to drug cartels to assassins while offering run-of-the mill accounting services in rural america. He is brilliant enough to uncook even the dirtiest of books and tough enough not to fear his clients, but rather be a threat to them.

Things got especially interesting as additional plot lines were introduced and woven together – there is the director of financial crimes at the Treasury Department who has spent his career trying to identify the accountant, and the junior investigator who the director blackmailed into helping him identify the accountant. There is a plotline revealed to the viewer via flashback involving Chris’ family and his past, including time in the military and prison. And, the primary plot that carries the film – where Christian takes a job reviewing the books for a seemingly legitimate prosthetics company and meets a young, attractive accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick).

I liked how the movie cut from the present perspective of different characters to their shared and overlapping history, in spite of how manufactured and unrealistic it all was. It kept me on my toes and kept me guessing as to how it would all weave together in the end. Many of the reviews I read were critical of the action scenes, but this is not my area of expertise. Mostly because I keep my eyes closed through most of them.

Instead, I’d like to explore the theme of being different, and what that means for the choices we make for ourselves and for our children. Chris’s dad was undoubtedly motivated by what he believed to be the best for his son. And his definition of “the best” was based on his own life experiences and beliefs about the world around them. He felt teaching his son extreme fighting and tactical army skills was the best way to empower him in a world that would perennially see him as “different”.

Chris’s mother disagreed with this approach, and ended up leaving the family as a result of the conflict. And, Chris became very successful in a career where it is not easy to stay alive long enough to be prosperous. In spite of that, he struggles with connection and lives alone, completely disconnected from family and without friends.

As parents, our actions and choices are shaping the experience our children have in this lifetime. Consciously, or unconsciously, our perception of reality, of what we think is black and white, is the biggest single factor in their perception. How do we try to shape or mould our children to ‘fit’ into what we believe the world will accept them as? What if instead we honored their true nature and fostered a more inclusive reality for them to exist in?

Regardless of whether you choose to watch the movie, consider how your beliefs and choices are influencing those around you and definitely check out the song “To Leave Something Behind” by Sean Rowe. His voice kept me glued to my seat through the entire credits and I’ve played it on repeat many times since then.

Amy Kellestine headshotAmy Kellestine is an educator, engineer, Arati life coach and entrepreneur living in Edmonton, Alberta. She spends her free time camping, gardening, and volunteering for causes such as Cystic Fibrosis and nature conservation. She is a devoted mother, who is passionate about helping others and writing.

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