Learning from The Accountant

By. Caitlin Herlihy

According to this week’s reading, Hugo Munsterberg was interested in the social effects and aesthetic values of movies that beg the question, “Why do we go to the movies?” His work attempted to define movies as education, art, or entertainment. While these categories tend to cross-pollinate, I believe most movies have educational value. They expose audiences to people, places, and scenarios that they may not have seen otherwise. This weekend I watched The Accountant, for example, and it revealed a lifestyle I previously didn’t know existed. 

This week I watched The Accountant, a thriller starring Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick. The storyline follows Chris Wolff, a high-functioning autistic accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. The Treasury Department seeks “The Accountant” and plans to arrest him. Meanwhile, Wolff and Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) discover $61 million has been embezzled from the robotics company he works for. He and Cummings are targeted, sparking a thrilling chase for the later half of the film.

While this movie did not secure a spot in my personal favorite films, I was exposed to issues I didn’t even know existed. The intricacies of companies’ finances, the complexity of autism, and the rampant crime families across the globe shocked me as a somewhat naïve viewer. This movie is fictional, but demonstrates issues in society. One of the most eye-opening point to me was when Wolff’s rhythm is messed up. As an adult with Autism, he has a specific ritual he follows each afternoon. When he is unable to complete his assignment midway through the film, he is completely disrupted and loses physical control.

Despite my overall enjoyment of the film, there were a few glaring plot holes. I enjoyed the storyline and action and, of course, Ben Affleck.

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Still from “The Accountant”

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6 Responses to Learning from The Accountant

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I will definitely have to watch this movie after hearing your thoughts on it. Since seeing trailers of it, I have wanted to see it but I would like to even more now

    -Max Lissette

  2. I think it’s really interesting that you focused on the educational aspect of movies over art or entertainment. Your example proves this well –and I can think of many times that I also learned from film. I’d have to side with Munsterberg, however, as movies for me are almost always entertainment above all else (though education is often a part of it)

    -Kelly FitzGerald

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I think you make a really interesting point concerning the power of film to expose stories, peoples, and places that are largely unfamiliar to most. In many ways, I think your post speaks to Munsterberg’s argument for the democratization of movies. Most interestingly, I think documentary gets the credit for being the “exposing,” “honest,” or most “revealing” genre. Too often we forget that even fictional or truth-based films take on this responsibility as well.

    – Lydia Geisel

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I agree that movies can make you think about issues you don’t normally think about. This movie looked intense, but it does sound intriguing. I’ll have to watch it though for sure.
    -Jordan Hansgen

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I love Ben Affleck and especially wanted to see this film after it’s really impressive trailer that revealed little to nothing about the plot and instead focused on the nature of Ben Affleck’s high functioning autism. Set an interesting montage to Radiohead and I’m sold. After reviews I was disappointed and figured I shouldn’t spend money on the film, but I’ll have to watch it later once it’s out on netflix or hulu.

    If you want a serious story featuring Ben Affleck’s brother, Casey Affleck, I highly recommend Manchester by the Sea. Never before have I seen a film focus on the mundane rather than the entertaining. It’s such an affecting story and I’ve never seen Casey outweigh Ben Affleck’s acting chops like this. It’s funny to see him come so far and give a remarkable performance. I keep seeing him in the backseat of Ben Affleck’s car from Goodwill Hunting in my mind, but then am so blown away by the contrasting performance in Manchester. Definitely check it out.

    -Russell Lawrence

  6. mediaphiles says:

    This movie seemed kinda fishy to me from the trailers, like it was trying to hard, but I have to say you bring up a lot of interesting points themes this movie plays throughout. I might want to give it a second chance.

    -Jake Fallin

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