This week I FINALLY got around to seeing The Accountant, which is surprising by itself, considering my taste in movies typically ranges from Wes Anderson, to Tarantino, or anything MARVEL and Disney put out. So, thrillers or action films (unless someone’s in a cape) don’t usually make my list. Additionally, having heard that it was about an individual with autism, I was apprehensive about stereotyping. The Accountant however is the first film in a while that surpassed my expectations. It’s a movie I recommend to nerds and non-nerds alike (not to mention, as a special ed. teacher I would also recommend it to other teachers and parents).
How would I explain it to non-nerds? It’s exciting, well written and well acted. How would I explain it to nerds? It’s like Batman… minus the batsuit… because of sensory issues!
Now, since I’ve already spent time recommending this movie to friends and fellow teachers, let me get a couple complaints out of the way (and don’t worry, no spoilers). Parts of the ending felt a tad predictable to anyone paying attention, though there was one final surprise that made me smile at the end. And along the way there were only a few moments where I didn’t love what was happening on screen (but that’s more about plot than the quality of the film). Oh, one more complaint, there wasn’t enough Lithgow or Tambor in this movie. They’re both such fabulous actors that I wish they had more screen time. Though that being said, every time I saw Tambor I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to Arrested Development. I have no complaints about Jon Bernthal or Anna Kendrick though. Anna Kendrick in particular felt very relate-able, playing a woman who was smart and kind, inquisitive and resourceful.
For most of the film though it was well paced, characters made logical decisions and it was one of the best representations of an individual with high functioning autism that I’ve ever seen. As a Special Education teacher I was thoroughly impressed. The movie walked a really fine line by showing what was typical of an individual with autism without going over the top (though a particular scene with a puzzle felt a tad on the nose).
Individuals with autism often have sensory issues ranging from over-sensitive hearing, or sight and they often are not able to process or filter out everything that is so overstimulating. Imagine spending your whole life with the volume or lights turned WAY TOO HIGH! Ben Affleck, and Seth Lee did a great job acting as an individual with high functioning autism, and it’s a shame we haven’t seen more talented actors in similar roles.
One of the lines that I loved from the movie (and I’m paraphrasing here), is that autism doesn’t have a certain look. You can’t tell if someone has it from a photo. You also can’t tell how capable someone with autism is based on an initial impression or interaction, which felt like the message of film as a whole and I wish that it’s message were further spread.
The complaint I had in regards to the plot was simply that it was hard to watch the main character’s father as he took what he thought was the best course of action for a child with special needs. I think it goes without saying (and with forgiveness for a minor spoiler) that I would not have employed the same methods that the father did, and would instead have gone for providing a sensible sensory environment.
Without giving anything else away, here are my final thoughts. This was more than just an action film. It wasn’t about the action. It was about the brains behind the action, and it was about the heart buried beneath the brains. Ben Affleck’s character, even as it displayed some stereotypes was a whole person, and it’s important to remember that anyone with autism is whole person, not simply a person with a diagnosis. It was definitely one of my favorite movies of 2016, and one that I think a lot of people will enjoy.